U.S. Supreme Court won't hear appeal in Fong Lee case

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2010 - 9:39 PM

The family of Fong Lee, who was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer, was seeking a new trial.

The family of a Minneapolis man killed by a police bullet in 2006 won't get a new hearing of their wrongful-death claims because the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the case.

Without comment the court announced Monday that it had denied certiorari -- court parlance for not taking up a request -- on the Fong Lee case.

The decision means the court won't hear arguments on whether Lee should get a new trial. The action is the final word on the high-profile case that included accusations by the family and others that police conspired to plant a gun next to Lee's body.

Corpus Christi, Texas, lawyer Robert C. Hilliard submitted the request for the family. He didn't immediately return a call Friday; nor did the attorney for Minneapolis, the defendant in the case.

In June 2009, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson rejected the family's request for a new trial, a month after a jury determined that Minneapolis officer Jason Andersen acted within the law when he shot and killed Lee after a foot chase in north Minneapolis.

Because of the implications for how police use force, the verdict was a significant victory for the city.

But Lee's family has maintained the 19-year-old was gunned down without justification. Through their lawyers, they leveled claims that police planted a gun to make the shooting appear justified. The jury didn't believe it.

In requesting a new trial, the family alleged "errors of law" during the first trial as well as "bias."

Magnuson certainly showed anger toward the family's trial lawyer, Michael Padden, during the trial, but he did it outside the presence of the jury.

In particular, Magnuson was angered in the trial's opening hours when, without warning, Padden projected a large, graphic photo of Lee's body onto high-resolution screens in the courtroom. Members of Lee's family sobbed dramatically in the front row.

Padden maintained that he didn't mean to display the photo. The family's request for a new trial also said the jury shouldn't have been able to hear testimony that Lee was a gang member.

Last month, another federal jury determined Andersen didn't violate another teen's civil rights by allegedly kicking him in the head at the Crystal Frolics in 2008.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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