Minneapolis says gun involved in fatal shooting never in police custodyby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
The Minneapolis city attorney filed documents Wednesday, which dispute allegations that police officers planted a gun near Fong Lee after they shot him in 2006. Lee's family has made claims that Minneapolis police planted a gun at the shooting scene to justify the killing. Lee's family believes the gun had been in police custody until the shooting. But the city says the allegation is wrong, and all due to a mix-up.
Minneapolis, Minn. — Court documents show this is actually the story of two different guns.
One, was found next to Fong Lee's body in July of 2006. It was a Russian-made gun.
The other, a Czech-made pistol was found in a snowbank in north Minneapolis two years earlier. At the time police officials thought this gun belonged to a burglary victim. But it didn't. So, it was logged in as evidence and became police property.
That's important because the Lee family's contention is based on the assumption that the police had the other gun, Russian-made gun in their evidence room. They suggest that police officers threw this gun down at the scene to justify Fong Lee's shooting.
Police Chief Tim Dolan says cops didn't plant a gun. But police officials say they made a mistake.
They mixed up the two guns.
During the shooting investigation they discovered the gun found at the scene of Fong Lee's shooting was not the Czech-made pistol they'd recovered from the burglary two years earlier. Instead it was the Russian-made gun which they'd never seen before.
According to court documents, that gun had never been in police possession. Therefore, the Minneapolis City Attorney says, a police officer couldn't have planted it at the scene.
The gun the police department did have for two years in the evidence room was the Czech-made pistol they'd found in the snowbank. Police officials say the mix up was because the two guns were so much alike.
Minneapolis Police Officer Jason Andersen, says he shot Fong Lee because Lee was carrying a gun and pointed it at him. The Russian-made gun was found a few feet away from Lee's body. A Grand Jury later found the killing justified. There are still questions as to why no fingerprints or DNA evidence from Lee were found on the gun.
Minnesota Public Radio News tried to reach attorneys for both parties, but the calls were not returned. The case is scheduled to go to trial on May 1.
- All Things Considered, 04/08/2009, 5:50 p.m.