Bodycam video of fatal St. Paul police shooting released

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The city of St. Paul and its police department has released video from the incident last weekend where a police officer fatally shot a man.

The release of the video on Friday comes two days after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, identified those involved in the incident. The BCA says both officers had just a year of law enforcement experience, and one officer fired his Taser while the other fired his rifle, striking 65-year-old Yia Xiong. He died at the scene.

WARNING: The video below shows the bodycam video released by police. It may be disturbing to some people.

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St. Paul police said the officers were responding to Winslow Commons, an affordable housing complex for seniors and people with disabilities on the 100 block of Western Avenue South, on a report of a man threatening residents with a knife. Multiple residents later told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Xiong also lived in the building.

The department said the officers ordered Xiong to drop the knife but he didn’t respond and instead went inside his apartment, then came back out while still holding the knife.

The video shows that officers fired several shots at Xiong just a couple of seconds after he walked out of his apartment, toward officers, while still holding a large knife, which was recovered at the scene.

“Any loss of life is tragic, and we’re keeping the family and friends of Mr. Xiong in our thoughts as they grieve and look for answers,” St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry said in a statement. “We know there aren’t words to alleviate their pain, but we hope the release of these videos will help them begin to understand what happened.

“At the same time, we are thinking about our community members and officers who are also affected,” Henry added. “We are a tight knit city, and what affects one of us affects all of us. That’s why we’re going to stand together and do everything we can to support one another while the BCA completes its investigation.”

After completing its investigation, the BCA will refer the case to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for review and possible charges.

“I’m sure many of the questions that community members have right now are some of the same questions that Chief Henry and I look forward to hearing answers from … about … from the BCA through the course of their, the independent investigation that they’re conducting,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

“We need to be mindful that this incident is less than a week old and this is an active and ongoing investigation,” Henry said at the press conference.

“We always try to deploy — in this case we did — a less-lethal option is what that’s titled, the Taser, and we have other options like that, but we always have the presence of that backup piece of equipment to make sure that if that less-lethal option is not going to work, that other piece of equipment is in place,” Henry said. However, he said he hasn’t interviewed the officers so he’s not sure what was going through their minds or what their decision process was, adding that that should be part of the BCA’s investigation.

Carter and Henry didn’t answer specific questions about the incident because the BCA’s investigation is still ongoing. Click the video below to watch their full press conference.

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Shortly after Mayor Carter and Chief Henry spoke, around ten Hmong community members protested outside the police department — sharing frustrations and demanding justice for Xiong.

“I want to fight for justice for everybody. And no matter what color you are, you have the right to live freely just like anybody else,” Snowdon Herr, who helped organize the protest, said.

Joining community members was Saint Paul city council member Nelsie Yang.

“I’ve got to say, it’s one of the most heartbreaking videos I’ve ever seen,” Yang said about the body camera footage.

Yang is the youngest and first Hmong American to be elected to Saint Paul’s city council — while protesting Friday, she said work needs to be done to prevent this from happening again.

“I do feel that there was so much injustice done,” Yang said, adding: “What’s going to be really important is holding our police accountable to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and making sure that people overall are not getting killed at all, you know, by folks who are here to serve us.”

Click here to watch the video as released by the police department. WARNING: This video was posted by the St. Paul Police Department, is unedited and may be disturbing to some people.