Community members say SPPD fatal shooting of Yia Xiong could have ended differently

Death of Yia Xiong by St. Paul police under investigation

Death of Yia Xiong by St. Paul police under investigation

Community members are speaking out against the St. Paul Police response that resulted in a man’s death in February.

Officers responded to an affordable living facility for Seniors where 65-year-old Yia Xiong was allegedly threatening people with a knife. Those officers ultimately shot and killed Xiong.

Community members are calling for justice and said the response could have ended differently. 

“In a case like that, if a crisis worker were to respond to that situation, they would have a conversation with the individual if he was not making an immediate threat to harm himself,” said Pa Der Vang, a former Ramsey County crisis worker. 

Vang believes having a crisis worker who speaks Hmong would have made a difference. Community members argue a lack of de-escalation training and language barriers caused Xiong’s death. 

“I found out later that in addition to that, one of his ears was hard of hearing,” said Snowdon Herr, the founder of the Justice for Yia Xiong movement. 

“He looked like he was retreating into his apartment, trying to close his door, and the police officers did not let him close his door. I don’t understand that. Why would they not let him leave the situation?” Vang questioned. 

St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry said in a press conference in February that it appears the tactics are consistent with what they do. 

On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced that the Attorney General will join them in reviewing the findings from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigation findings into the St. Paul shooting death of Yia Xiong. 

Herr said it’s welcome news and that there have been petitions seeking help from the Attorney General to look into the case. 

In addition to the attorney general, the Ramsey County Attorney’s office says a use of force expert will be helping with the review.

There’s no timeframe for when the review will be completed.

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.