Community members protest, mourn death of man shot by St. Paul police

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Community members gathered in St. Paul on Sunday to protest and mourn the death of a man shot and killed by St. Paul police last weekend.

On Feb. 11, St. Paul police officers responded to reports that Yia Xiong was threatening people with a knife. The body camera footage was released on Friday.

According to police, when the officers found the man they told him to drop the knife but Xiong advanced on officers with the weapon.

One officer deployed a taser and a second officer shot and killed the 65-year-old.

RELATED: Multiple St. Paul officers on leave after fatal officer-involved shooting

In the streets of St. Paul, a familiar chant echoed throughout the city, but this time there was a different name.

The St. Paul police shooting of Xiong is why signs condemning police brutality are back on display in the city.

“I am saddened today that they have shot and killed my husband,” Se Xiong, Yia Xiong’s wife, said via translator.

Protesters shared the grief with the Xiong family as they plan a life without their loved one.

“I have my own medical conditions. It’s been difficult,” Se said via translator. “He has been there. Today, he is not here. Where else can I go to stay? What do I need to do next?”

Demanding justice for Yia was the big focus on Sunday.

Demonstrators marched in front of the St. Paul Police William K. Finney Western District station, hoping to send a message by calling for better de-escalation training, less-lethal force and mental health support when officers respond to calls.

The Xiong family said Yia was deaf, had mental health challenges and didn’t speak English. They said those factors may have contributed to the confusion during the incident.

“We have to believe in our heart that an injustice happened to one of us, no matter what we look like, is an injustice to all of us,” Toshira Garraway, leader of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, said.

Right outside Winslow Commons, the community created a memorial with candles, balloons and pictures to honor the life of Yia.

“It’s just heartbreaking for me,” Brian Xiong, a Hmong 18 councilmember, said. “It is sad to see this happen constantly.”

Brian Xiong, who is not related to Yia, explained that an elder being killed in the Hmong community is difficult to digest.

The demonstrators are hoping to spark change by lifting signs and their voices.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is still investigating the incident. When that wraps up, the BCA report will head to the Ramsey County Attorney’s office for review.