A loving father. A devoted husband. A trusted shaman.
Family and friends used those words as they tearfully remembered the life of Chiasher Fong Vue during a candlelight vigil outside his home Tuesday night, two days after Minneapolis police shot and killed him following an armed confrontation in the Jordan neighborhood.
“My father was a giving man. When anyone was down on their last dime, he would offer to help without hesitation,” said ChaMee Vue, his youngest daughter. “What transpired on Sunday could have been avoided, and it’s tragic.”
As Vue’s relatives expressed grief and anger at how police handled the domestic disturbance call that began as a “call for help in an emergency,” the Hmong 18 Council demanded that authorities release footage from police body cameras.
Family members and community leaders questioned why so many shots were fired. The vigil was held in front of the house, which was pierced with dozens of bullet holes, each marked with tape as police evidence. A neighbor from across the street — behind where officers were standing — showed a Fox 9 TV reporter the damage from where bullets entered his home, several of which ended up lodged in a kitchen wall and his oven.
Officers were called to Vue’s home in the 3100 block of N. Thomas Avenue shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday to check on a report of gunfire inside the house. After a brief standoff, Vue walked outside and pointed a “long gun” at police, who opened fire, officials say. Questions remain about whether Vue, 52, shot at officers and, if so, how many times.
The Hmong 18 Council also asked that authorities conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation. The group also said a minority mediator should be used as a “first line of defense” in domestic situations.
Officials have said that officers’ body cameras and dashboard cameras were activated, and that the footage would be turned over to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is handling the case. In other recent police shootings, officials promised to release footage as quickly as possible, but no such pledges have been made in this case.
According to police radio transmissions posted online, a Hmong-speaking officer was summoned to the scene.
Vue died at North Memorial Health Hospital of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. He is the 14th person this year to die from an encounter with law enforcement officers in Minnesota, according to a Star Tribune database. It’s the highest number of deaths in any year dating back to 2000.
A portrait of Vue became clearer at the vigil as several dozen people lit candles and paid their respects. Vue came to the United States as a refugee and was the father of seven children and the eldest of five siblings, his family said. He was a shaman for 13 years and his father was a former military commander.
ChaMee Vue told the crowd that her father sacrificed his dreams to provide for his wife, children and siblings. Standing next to her was Vue’s wife, Mai Pha Vue, who sobbed throughout her daughter’s remarks.
Family members said Tuesday night that Vue’s disabled mother was in the house at the time of the incident. A dispatcher informed officers Sunday that the 911 caller’s 70-year-old grandmother was the only other person in the home.
“When 100 bullets or so went into this house, there were people inside that house,” said Sia Lo, a concerned family friend. “We want answers.”
State investigators have begun reconstructing what led to the shooting.
Police officials said they could not provide information about previous police calls to the address, but a Fire Department report showed that officers were summoned to the house on Dec. 1 for an unspecified emergency.
A source familiar with the investigation said that nine officers have been placed on standard administrative leave — eight of them fired their service handguns, while one shot a less-lethal weapon, the source said.
The BCA said it would release the names of the officers after it has interviewed them.
The source also shed light on what happened Sunday.
As officers surrounded the house, Vue poked his head out the front door to talk to his daughter, who was pleading with him to come outside. But seeing all the officers, he ducked back inside, only to emerge about 30 seconds later, clutching an older model Soviet-designed assault rifle, the source said. Ignoring police commands to drop the weapon, Vue apparently pointed it at the officers, who then opened fire from about 100 feet away, the source said.
The department will conduct its own review of the shooting to determine whether any of the officers involved violated internal policy.
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