Charges: Man accused in fatal assault outside St. Paul bar said he was defending family member

Court documents show prosecutors have formally charged a St. Paul man with manslaughter after another man who was found unconscious on a sidewalk died last month.

A criminal complaint filed Friday morning shows that Pheng Vang, 38, has been charged with one count of first-degree manslaughter while committing a gross misdemeanor for the death of 30-year-old Peter Nguyen.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Nguyen was found unconscious and not breathing by officers who were on patrol near the intersection of Case Avenue and Arcade Street at around 1 a.m. on Saturday, March 23. He later died at Regions Hospital.

Two days later, police announced Nguyen’s death was a homicide.

According to the complaint, a witness told officers that Nguyen had been assaulted by a male wearing black clothing, and Nguyen had some kind of issue with people who had been attending a birthday party at the bar. The witness then said Nguyen was going to fight another man but was hit by another man who came up along the side of him.

After reviewing more evidence and witness testimony, Vang was identified as the man who punched Nguyen.

The document goes on to say police brought Vang to their headquarters for an interview, who told them he was at the bar the same day the assault happened.

According to the criminal complaint, Vang claimed he was starting to leave when an argument began escalating at the corner of Arcade and Case. He added that Nguyen and another man, who Vang said was his family member, were going to fight, so he “walked up to diffuse the situation.”

Vang went on to tell police that he punched Nguyen in the shoulder and face with one blow, adding he thought he was defending his family member. After Nguyen fell down, Vang said he left.

On Friday morning, Judge Maria Mitchell sent Vang’s bail at $250,000. His next hearing is set for April 11.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.