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Crime lab officials investigated the scene on the corner of Jessamine Ave and Westminster St. in St. Paul where a man was shot to death by police.

Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

St. Paul police kill drug suspect

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG
  • Star Tribune
  • October 24, 2012 - 3:12 AM

A man under investigation as part of a narcotics case was shot and killed by St. Paul police Tuesday.

The man's car was being stopped on Jessamine Avenue near Westminster Street in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood about 4 p.m. when he took "evasive action towards the officers," said St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos.

"It was at that time that officers thought their life was in jeopardy," Paulos said, declining to elaborate on the driver's actions or whether he was armed.

The driver was a subject of a drug investigation by Minneapolis police, who asked St. Paul to stop the vehicle, said Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer. About a dozen armed officers from both departments were at the scene when the shooting occurred.

Two St. Paul officers were involved in the shooting, Paulos said. Police declined to name them Tuesday evening, and said they are investigating who fired weapons and how many shots were fired.

Authorities didn't release the identity of the dead man. Two other men in the car were detained for questioning. Witnesses said both were handcuffed and placed in squad cars.

'You shot my uncle!'

A neighbor, Sherry Keller, said she was pulling up to her home when she heard about a dozen gunshots. Then she said she saw the police arrest a young man she didn't recognize. He repeatedly screamed at the officers: "You shot my uncle!" Keller said.

"They were moving him from police car to police car," Keller said. "He was just sobbing, screaming, crying. It was just awful."

Keller said she also observed officers use a Taser on the man after he kept screaming. Paulos said he could not confirm that.

Police released few details about how events unfolded, but an unmarked police SUV had clearly crashed into the front left corner of the deceased man's car, and a window was broken or shot out. Neighbors said they heard one slow siren call before the burst of gunshots.

Paulos said there was no police pursuit.

David Graf, who lives nearby, looked out after hearing the gunshots. About a dozen officers in full body armor were training their guns on the car.

"They were converging on the car," Graf said.

They pulled the driver out and laid him in the street, pulling his T-shirt over his head, and then took out the two passengers, he said. Most of the officers were wearing black clothing marked with police identification, he said. Most of squads were marked, but at least three unmarked vehicles and non-uniformed detectives were also at the scene.

Police mum on drug probe

Neighbors said they didn't think the investigation was connected to any of the homes on the block. Some, like Graf, said they felt safe in the area. Others, like Keller, said crime in the area was getting worse.

Palmer declined to elaborate on the narcotics investigation or why the stop was made in the neighborhood.

St. Paul police said no new information would be released before noon Wednesday.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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