Shooting puts Minneapolis police on defensiveby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis police officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a man shot by police officers last night. Police report that the 27-year-old man struggled with officers before he was shot. But members of the man's family dispute police accounts, and say they believe he was the victim of police misconduct.
Minneapolis, Minn. — Police say just before midnight Wednesday, they were summoned to an address on Bloomington Ave. in south Minneapolis on a domestic dispute call. They were told that a man was threatening to kill people inside the house, and that he had earlier thrown a large brick threw the window of a nearby home.
"When the officers arrived on the scene the male suspect fled on foot," said interim Police Vhief Tim Dolan. "The officers chased him for a short distance. Two police officers caught the suspect, tried to place him under arrest and a struggle ensued. One of the officers' guns allegedly became part of the struggle and seven rounds were fired. No additional weapons were found at the scene."
Police did not name the man, but family members identified his as Dominic Felder. Some of them went to City Hall and listened to the police news conference from behind a battery of television cameras. As Dolan solicited questions from the media, some of the family members spoke out.
"He was a loving father. He ain't never did nothing wrong. They murdered him," said Valerie Felder Parker, who identified herself as Felders' aunt.
Parker says she didn't see what happened between the police and her nephew. But she says she was on the phone with people who were nearby during the incident.
Parker says Felder was not threatening people, and although she says he was having problems, he wasn't violent. Parker alleges the police aren't telling the whole story about what happened.
"They took us to see where the body was laying at. Come to find out, people was telling me when he got shot that he had handcuffs on. Not just that. Also he was in one spot, but when we seen his body, it was in another spot. So you tell me how that body got moved," Parker said.
Police officials did not comment on Parker's allegations.
Officers Lawrence Loonsfoot and Jason King were involved in the shooting and are on paid administrative leave while the department investigates the incident. Both officers have been on the force since 1993. Their service records both contain several commendations and awards.
Loonsfoot's personnel file contains a recommendation for suspension over unspecified misconduct in 2005. He was warned, but not suspended. King's record contains letters of caution over two squad car accidents in 1994 and 1996.
Police union President Sgt. John Delmonico says he believes the officers acted appropriately and were defending themselves from the suspect.
"There was a confrontation. The officer had his gun out, and I believe you'll see that he attempted to take it from the officer. It resulted in him being shot," Delmonico said.
The incident is the second homicide involving police in the last two months. In July, a police officer shot a 19-year-old in north Minneapolis. Family members of the victim, Fong Lee, say they had unanswered questions and hired their own attorney to investigate the case.
The Rev. Randolph Staten, the president of the Black Church Coalition and African American Leadership Summit, says he and members of his group are counseling Felder's family members in the aftermath of the shooting.
Staten says he doesn't want to speculate about what went on, but he's concerned about what police aren't saying about the incident.
"There's a vague statement that says -- and I'll repeat from the statement that says, 'One of the officers' guns allegedly became part of the struggle and seven rounds were fired.' That seems strange to me," said Staten. "I know some of the family members have expressed some concerns that they saw, or other members of the community, say they saw something different."
Police officials say both internal affairs and the homicide units will investigate the incident.
- All Things Considered, 09/21/2006, 5:22 p.m.