A community group that helps families of people killed by police claims the city of Minneapolis violated data practices laws by withholding some information about Sunday's fatal shooting of a north Minneapolis man.
Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) filed a complaint Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court and is asking a judge to intervene in the matter. The nonprofit said that on Monday it requested several pieces of information from Minneapolis police about the death of Chiasher Fong Vue and that the city has refused to comply.
"The data requested by CUAPB through the 12/16/19 Request is required to be public at all times in the Minneapolis Police Department," the group's complaint said. "As a result of the City of Minneapolis violation of MN Stat. 13.82, CUAPB is unable to fulfill its mission of increasing oversight and accountability of the Minneapolis Police Department with respect to police misconduct and to provide timely assistance to the family of Chiasher Fong Vue."
Interim City Attorney Erik Nilsson issued a statement Wednesday afternoon noting that the city has a protocol for releasing data and that the process is "underway."
"The City takes seriously its obligations under the Data Practices Act and has a protocol to proactively post public information following an officer-involved shooting," he said.
Information will be posted on the city's website, minneapolismn.gov/police/records/frequent, as it becomes available, he said.
The city did not elaborate on the protocol or time frame for releasing more information.
CUAPB attorney Paul Bosman said Thursday morning that enough information was released Wednesday evening by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the shooting, to cancel the group's request for immediate intervention by a judge.
The group had asked a judge to compel the city to release the information, and was set to argue its case in court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The hearing has been canceled.
"It does not meet everything we requested, but it does meet enough to take away the finding that we would be irreparably harmed," Bosman said of the BCA's news release.
The BCA statement said that Vue fired a rifle at officers first. It also named the nine officers involved.
Bosman said CUAPB's case will move forward in court to determine whether the city failed to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The group on Wednesday night also requested body camera footage of the shooting, which it has not yet received, he added.
Community leaders and Vue's family members and friends held a vigil Tuesday evening outside his home in the 3100 block of N. Thomas Avenue where he was killed. Police were called to the address about 3 a.m. Sunday for a domestic disturbance and learned en route that someone had fired shots inside.
While most of the home's occupants fled, authorities said Vue walked outside after a brief standoff and pointed a "long gun" at police. Officers opened fire.
Family and friends questioned why officers fired dozens of shots at Vue, who according to the BCA raised his rifle and began shooting before officers returned fire.
CUAPB said in its complaint that it filed a request through the city's online data request portal for: the time, date and place of the incident; any resistance encountered by police; whether weapons were used by the agency or "other individual"; the legal basis for the action; the identities of the agency's units and staff involved; whether police used a portable recording system; and the manner in which police received information that led to their actions, among other information.
The information, the group said, is public data as outlined by state law.
The group said that the city failed to publicly report six pieces of data from the case, including whether police encountered resistance, whether weapons were used by police or other people, and the legal basis for the action, among others.
The city possesses all the data in question, the group's complaint said.
"This is about who watches the watchmen," Bosman said of CUAPB's data request. "The oversight of the people who have the power to stop your car, pull you out of it, put you in handcuffs and take you to jail should be everybody's business."
The group sued Minneapolis earlier this year for failing to produce disciplinary records for some officers.
Bosman said the group, which works statewide, encounters similar problems with other agencies.