Ashley Quinones shared her grief with Minnesota’s top public safety officials on Thursday night as she described how her life has changed since police shot and killed her husband, Brian, in September.
Standing before an audience inside the Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis, Quinones told Attorney General Keith Ellison and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington that she lost her car and Richfield home after her husband was killed following a police chase.
She and her 12-year-old son, Cameron, have since moved into a relative’s one-bedroom apartment in Bloomington, she said, noting that the officers who shot her husband are still on the force.
“I don’t understand how there’s nothing,” Quinones told Ellison, Harrington and other members of a state working group that is examining deadly police encounters. “You have to have some sort of retraining. The result should never end in death.”
Quinones and others who lost loved ones in encounters with police gave emotional testimony at the listening session, the first of three scheduled by the working group as it prepares to submit recommendations to the Legislature.
For some, the wounds of losing their loved ones were still fresh.
It’s been almost 100 days since Austin Heisler’s nephew was killed by Brooklyn Center police. Officers shot 21-year-old Kobe Edgar Dimock-Heisler, who was on the autism spectrum, during a domestic disturbance call in late August. Dimock-Heisler had threatened officers with a knife and could not be subdued with Tasers, said the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The BCA is still investigating and the officers involved are back on duty. “I just want to know how these cops, when they’re involved in a deadly shooting like this, can be allowed back on the force,” Heisler said.
Others directed their remarks at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. They noted that the only police officer convicted of murder in Minnesota for an on-duty fatal shooting was ex-Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who is black.
“They never do a white officer like that,” said community activist Al Flowers.
The working group has heard from officers, experts and community members over the past few months. Before Thursday’s session, Ellison and Harrington said their group has zeroed in on some proposals that could help officers and officials manage the spate of fatal shootings.
Harrington recently fulfilled a “number-one ask” of community members by instructing the BCA to create a family liaison coordinator position that could be a resource for families right after an officer-involved shooting.
Ellison and Harrington have also started conversations with the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, after a presentation from the Autism Society of Minnesota underscored that officers need more training to deal with autistic people who are in crisis.
The working group’s February report to the Legislature will address police training and wellness and add resources for community members, Ellison said.