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Friday, September 18, 2009

[MN] Mpls Police Chief fires Officer Andersen after dv charge dropped, but police union defends him because - other officers have done worse?

THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE FEDERATION AND A PRIVATE ATTORNEY SAID THURSDAY THAT THEY'LL FIGHT FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF OFFICER JASON ANDERSEN, WHOSE FATAL SHOOTING OF 19-YEAR-OLD FONG LEE IN 2006 TRIGGERED OUTRAGE FROM SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY AND WHO MORE RECENTLY FACED A MISDEMEANOR DOMESTIC ASSAULT CHARGE BEFORE ITS DISMISSAL...

THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICER WHO FATALLY SHOT FONG LEE IN 2006 WAS FIRED THIS WEEK AFTER AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION.
Star Tribune
By ABBY SIMONS
September 17, 2009 - 9:50 PM
The Minneapolis Police Federation and a private attorney said Thursday that they'll fight for the reinstatement of officer Jason Andersen, whose fatal shooting of 19-year-old Fong Lee in 2006 triggered outrage from segments of the community and who more recently faced a misdemeanor domestic assault charge before its dismissal. Police Chief Tim Dolan, who thought highly enough of Andersen's conduct in the Lee shooting to award him the department's Medal of Valor, fired the 32-year-old Wednesday following an internal investigation. The department, union and Andersen's attorney, Fred Bruno, would not discuss reasons cited for the termination. Attorneys said Andersen will contest the firing through an arbitration process. The termination came two weeks after a Sherburne County prosecutor dismissed the domestic assault charge. The department suspended Anderson with pay in June after the charge was filed. Had the charge stood, it wouldn't justify Andersen's firing, union attorney Ann Walther said Thursday at a news conference. "I have reviewed the entire internal affairs file, and there is no evidence to justify any discipline, let alone termination," she said. "We cannot understand why ... other than that he is a high-profile officer"... [Full article here]

..."ALL SWORN AND CIVILIAN MEMBERS OF THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN A PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL MANNER AT ALL TIMES AND NOT ENGAGE IN ANY ON- OR OFF-DUTY CONDUCT THAT WOULD TARNISH OR OFFEND THE ETHICAL STANDARDS OF THE DEPARTMENT. EMPLOYEES SHALL ABIDE BY THE CITY'S ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT POLICY, CHAPTER 15"...

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE UNION ASSAILS DEPARTMENT OVER OFFICER'S FIRING
Police shed little light on handling of Andersen case
By David Hanners
dhanners@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 09/17/2009 11:29:16 PM CDT
Minneapolis policeman Jason Andersen had become "a high-profile officer" and was singled out for firing even though other officers had been accused — and even convicted — of worse violations than the domestic assault charge he once faced, an attorney for the Minneapolis Police Federation said Thursday."This case represents one more situation where the administration singles out certain officers for unjustly harsh treatment," Ann Walther said. She also said there wasn't enough evidence in the case "to justify any discipline, let alone termination." Andersen, cleared of wrongdoing by a federal jury this spring in a wrongful-death case stemming from his 2006 shooting of Fong Lee, was fired by Police Chief Timothy Dolan on Wednesday. Two weeks earlier, a prosecutor had dismissed a misdemeanor domestic assault charge filed against him after an argument with his girlfriend in June. The prosecutor said he dropped the case because there wasn't enough admissible evidence to prove Andersen was guilty... "I have been awarded three medals, over 50 letters of commendation, an Officer-of-the-Month Award, am a senior Taser instructor, a ground fighting instructor, a field training officer, an in-custody death instructor and a fitness instructor, so I ask myself: Why is this fair to me, when I have done so much for this department and always given everything 100 percent?" he wrote... Dolan later issued a statement saying that while he couldn't discuss the specifics of the case, "we are not going to tolerate those who will tarnish our reputations"... According to police records, Andersen was fired for misconduct described as a violation of the city's Civil Service Commission Section 11.03, Subdivision B-18. That subdivision says a city employee can be disciplined for "Violation of department rules, policies, procedures or City ordinance." In particular, Andersen was accused of violating Section 5-102 of the department's policy and procedure manual. That section is the police force's single-paragraph Code of Ethics, which reads: "All sworn and civilian members of the department shall conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner at all times and not engage in any on- or off-duty conduct that would tarnish or offend the ethical standards of the department. Employees shall abide by the City's Ethics in Government Policy, Chapter 15"... Andersen said he wasn't told what he'd done that violated the code of ethics. "I've not done anything," he said. Big Lake police arrested the officer June 14 following an argument at his home. Andersen's former wife had called a Big Lake police officer, and according to a later incident report, she said Andersen had assaulted his girlfriend, identified as [ALN], 29, of Howard Lake. Andersen and [ALN] were subsequently charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. Sherburne County prosecutors soon dropped the charge against [ALN]. She gave a statement to Andersen's attorney — who turned it over to prosecutors — in which she claimed the police reports "exaggerated things that never even happened." She also said that police "pressured me to do and say things I didn't want to do or say" and that she had no intention of testifying against Andersen at trial... [Full article here]

...LT. BOB KROLL, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE FEDERATION, SAID ANDERSEN WAS BEING TREATED DIFFERENTLY FROM OTHER OFFICERS IN THE PAST BECAUSE OF THE PUBLICITY OF THE FONG LEE TRIAL. "WE'VE GOT PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD DOMESTIC ASSAULTS AND THEY HAVEN'T BEEN FIRED," KROLL SAID...

MINNEAPOLIS FIRES POLICE OFFICER WHO FATALLY SHOT TEEN AND WAS ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

Decision follows dropped charges in domestic incident
By David Hanners
dhanners@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 09/17/2009 08:47:05 AM CDT
...[Minneapolis Police Officer Jason] Andersen was told Wednesday that he was being fired. "Internal Affairs came out to my house and they gave me some papers. They said it was for a policy violation for the code of ethics, but they couldn't even tell me what the violation was," Andersen said in a telephone interview Wednesday night. Lt. Bob Kroll, vice president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said Andersen was being treated differently from other officers in the past because of the publicity of the Fong Lee trial. "We've got people who have had domestic assaults and they haven't been fired," Kroll said. Asked how the police union intended to respond, he replied, "I've already discussed it with our attorney." Andersen had been on paid administrative leave since being arrested June 14 following an incident at his Big Lake home. His ex-wife had called a Big Lake policeman and complained that Andersen, 32, had struck his girlfriend, [ALN], 29, of Howard Lake. The officer was charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse. But [ALN] later gave a statement saying police "blew it out of proportion" and "exaggerated things that never even happened," and told attorneys that she wouldn't testify at Andersen's trial... Last Friday, Kroll represented Andersen at a discipline panel hearing in front of three deputy chiefs. After presenting the officer's version of the June 14 incident, the deputy chiefs said they would consider the "new" evidence and adjourned without acting, Kroll said. But it appears the panel recommended to Dolan that Andersen be fired, and he agreed. Dolan had long defended Andersen in the Fong Lee case. The officer was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, but the chief returned him to duty within two days, before the department's own investigators had a chance to take a statement from Andersen... Andersen's return to duty after the verdict was short-lived. On June 14, he was arrested by Big Lake police and charged with assaulting his girlfriend. [ALN] was also charged in the incident, but a prosecutor dismissed the charge on July 16. The dismissal came a week after she gave a statement saying she'd never told police Andersen had assaulted her. "I am frustrated as I feel the justice system took something, blew it out of proportion, exaggerated things that never even happened, pressured me to do and say things I didn't want to do or say and is now leaving both Jason and I in very bad places," she said in the statement, a copy of which was obtained by the Pioneer Press. Sgt. Scott Zierden of the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit had been called to the scene, and Kroll said the report filed by Zierden contained misstatements, including the claim that [ALN] "managed to get away from (the) suspect and call 911." In reality, there was no 911 call. He also disputed the claim in Zierden's incident report that [ALN]' alleged injuries were consistent with Andersen having struck her "several times about the face and head with an open hand," as Zierden wrote in the report... [Full article here]

...ACCORDING TO A MINNEAPOLIS POLICE REPORT, ANDERSEN AND [ALN] BEGAN ARGUING... DURING THE ARGUMENT, ANDERSEN ALLEGEDLY HIT [ALN] "SEVERAL TIMES ABOUT THE FACE AND HEAD WITH AN OPEN HAND," ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, WHICH SAID THE BLOWS "CAUSED A VISIBLE INJURY" TO THE WOMAN'S LEFT EAR. ANDERSEN THEN DROVE [ALN] TO HIS HOME IN BIG LAKE, WHERE POLICE CLAIMED ANOTHER ASSAULT OCCURRED. AFTER [ALN] WOUND UP AT THE HOME OF ANDERSEN'S EX-WIFE, POLICE WERE CALLED AND ARRESTED ANDERSEN...

EXCERPTS FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:

THE FINAL MOMENTS OF FONG LEE- WAS HE ARMED WHEN A COP SHOT AND KILLED HIM DURING A CHASE THREE YEARS AGO? POLICE SAY HE WAS. A FORENSICS EXPERT SAYS THESE SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS PROVE OTHERWISE.
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Contrary to what Minneapolis police have claimed, Fong Lee didn't have a gun in his right hand when a patrolman chased him and then shot him eight times, a nationally recognized video forensics expert asserts. The expert, Richard Diercks, said he examined photos taken by a surveillance camera that caught part of the chase, and they show the man's hand was empty... Attorneys for Fong Lee 's family filed affidavits in the case Monday maintaining that Fong Lee was unarmed and that police planted the Russian-made pistol officers said was found near his body... No fingerprints or DNA evidence were found on the weapon, according to police reports... Michael Padden, an attorney representing Fong Lee 's family, said the video images are key to the case. "The evidence that he didn't have a gun is overwhelming. Overwhelming," Padden said... Minneapolis City Attorney James Moore has declined to comment on the case... Not only was Andersen cleared by a police inquiry and a grand jury, he was awarded the Medal of Valor, the department's second-highest honor, for the incident...

COPS FOUND NO PRINTS ON FONG LEE GUN, BUT ... THAT'S NOT WHAT THE POLICE CHIEF REPORTEDLY TOLD HIS FAMILY, OTHERS
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Three days after Minneapolis police found no fingerprints on a gun lying next to a man shot eight times by an officer, Police Chief Timothy Dolan reportedly was saying otherwise. Witnesses say they heard Dolan tell the victim's family members and others that Fong Lee's prints were on the gun and that he repeated the comment to a citizens' panel. The witnesses said Dolan made the statement to them and Fong Lee 's family members. They said the chief said the prints bolstered the officer's claim that the man was carrying a gun and the officer shot in self-defense - a claim now challenged by lawyers for the dead man's family. "The chief said that he had a fingerprint on the gun. I heard that," Al Flowers, a member of the Police Community Relations Council... "It seemed to me that he said the kid's fingerprints were on the gun," said Zachary Metoyer, another council member... Council member Ron Edwards said he heard Dolan make the comment in the days after Fong Lee was shot and killed by officer Jason Andersen on July 22, 2006. Minneapolis police records show that the day after the shooting, a crime lab scientist found no fingerprints on the gun... Fong Lee was Hmong, and his shooting sparked outrage in the Hmong community. Family members claimed he would not have had a gun...


POLICE : WE DIDN'T HAVE GUN BEFORE SHOOTING - DEPARTMENT CLAIMS SERGEANT CONFUSED PISTOL FOUND NEXT TO FONG LEE WITH ONE IN CUSTODY
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Thursday, April 9, 2009
A Minneapolis police sergeant's incorrect identification of a gun led to a false claim that the pistol found next to police shooting victim Fong Lee in 2006 was planted, lawyers for the city claimed in a document filed Wednesday. Contrary to the dead man's family's claims, the gun hadn't been in police custody before the shooting -- and even if it had been, it is "legally irrelevant," the city argued in a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court...

LAWYERS ASK TO BAR FONG LEE COMMENT - COP'S SPOKESMAN SAID 'YOU CAN'T TELL' TEEN HELD WEAPON
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Lawyers for the city of Minneapolis sought Monday to keep statements made by their own police department's spokesman from being used in the upcoming trial in the Fong Lee case. Sgt. Jesse Garcia acknowledged on a radio talk show and in the Pioneer Press last month that surveillance photos didn't appear to show that Fong Lee had a gun in his hand before officer Jason Andersen shot him, but the city says the spokesman's comment is inadmissible opinion... Garcia, the police department's spokesman, was quoted in an April 1 article in the Pioneer Press as saying that "from the vantage point of the video, you can't tell" that Fong Lee had a gun in his hand. He mentioned it again April 18 when he phoned in to Ron Rosenbaum's program on KTLK-FM....

EX-OFFICER SAYS SHOOTING WAS NOT JUSTIFIED - BUT DEFENSE TEARS INTO EXPERT WITNESS
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Saturday, May 23, 2009
A cop-turned-expert-witness testified Friday that Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen used excessive force and wasn't justified in shooting a running Fong Lee nearly three years ago. The witness, Philip Corrigan, told jurors the shooting was "completely inappropriate" if the 19-year-old didn't have a gun, as his family alleges in their wrongful-death lawsuit... Corrigan, who spent 20 years as a police officer in Tucson, Ariz., before entering teaching, said his review of the police reports, statements from Andersen and other officers, and other documents led him to conclude that Fong Lee didn't pose an "imminent threat" to Andersen... The first shot missed and Fong Lee kept running. Andersen said that when the teen again raised his arm as if to fire a gun, he shot three more times and each shot struck Fong Lee . When Fong Lee fell to the ground, the officer shot him five more times because he refused to drop the gun, Andersen said... Friday's court session also featured testimony from Fong Lee 's parents, sister and four brothers. Each described the man's love of birds and how he raised and trained Birmingham Roller pigeons and homing pigeons. All said they'd never seen Fong Lee do anything violent, and each testified that he didn't own a gun...

COP WHO SHOT FONG LEE FACES DOMESTIC ASSAULT CASE
Star Tribune
Sarah Lemagie ; Rochelle Olson
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Minneapolis police officer who was cleared by a civil jury of wrongdoing in the shooting death of 19-year-old Fong Lee has been charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. Jason Thomas Andersen, 32, was arrested Sunday morning by Big Lake police and charged Monday with one count of fifth-degree domestic assault, said Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney. He pleaded not guilty, she said, and a county jail official said he was released after his court appearance. Fred Bruno, Andersen's lawyer, said the female in the incident was also charged with misdemeanor assault...

OFFICER IN FONG LEE CASE IN COURT AGAIN
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), Daily Briefing
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A Minneapolis police officer, cleared in the wrongful-death trial of 19-year-old Fong Lee , pleaded not guilty Monday to a fifth-degree domestic assault charge in Sherburne County. Jason Thomas Andersen, 32, of Big Lake, was arrested Sunday in Big Lake on the assault charge, according to Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney. Judge Mary Yunker released him the next day under condition he not use drugs or alcohol and submit to testing...

OFFICER TO FACE DOMESTIC ASSAULT TRIAL - HE WAS CLEARED IN FONG LEE SHOOTING
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
David Hanners
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen will go to trial Sept. 8 on a charge of mis-demeanor domestic assault in connection with a June incident involving his girlfriend, a judge decided Monday. A prosecutor said after the hearing that although it is doubtful the woman will testify against Andersen, the case could go forward with other evidence. Sherburne County District Judge Karla Hancock set the trial date after Andersen's attorney told the judge he and prosecutors had been unable to strike a deal and his client wanted a speedy trial. "We want him back on the job," the attorney, Fred Bruno, said after the hearing. "It's in everybody's interest to bring this to a conclusion as soon as possible." Andersen has been on paid administrative leave since the arrest. Hancock also lifted a pretrial condition that Andersen, 32, abstain from drinking alcohol. Bruno said the no-booze prohibition "has been a burden for my client," and the prosecutor, Coon Rapids City Attorney Stoney Hiljus, conceded there was no evidence that Andersen was intoxicated or that drinking contributed to the alleged incident. Hiljus is prosecuting the case because of conflict-of-interest issues. Andersen used to work as a police officer in Elk River, the Sherburne County seat... The domestic assault charge against Andersen stems from an alleged incident June 14 at the officer's home in Big Lake. He was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, [ALN], 29, of Howard Lake. In a brief phone interview this month, [ALN] said that Andersen was "a really good dad and a really good cop" and that the events leading to the charges "just got blown way out of proportion" by police. Andersen's ex-wife is the one who called police, apparently after one of the officer's neighbors took [ALN] to the ex-wife's home, Hiljus said. [ALN] and the ex-wife are friends, he said. Bruno said [ALN] has since recanted her statement implicating Andersen. Hiljus acknowledged the woman is now reluctant to testify against Andersen, but said the case could still be prosecuted. "It depends on the other evidence around the case," he said. "We're trying to see if she doesn't cooperate if we can still proceed to trial. That's tricky to do, but that's not to say it can't be done." According to a Minneapolis police report, Andersen and [ALN] began arguing while sitting in the officer's truck outside a Minneapolis nightclub. During the argument, Andersen allegedly hit [ALN] "several times about the face and head with an open hand," according to the report, which said the blows "caused a visible injury" to the woman's left ear. Andersen then drove [ALN] to his home in Big Lake, where police claimed another assault occurred. After [ALN] wound up at the home of Andersen's ex-wife, police were called and arrested Andersen. When he complained that [ALN] had assaulted him, she was arrested, too. Prosecutors later dismissed her case....

DOMESTIC ASSAULT CHARGE AGAINST MINNEAPOLIS OFFICER IS DROPPED
Minneapolis Star Tribune
David Chanen
September 3, 2009 - 7:57 PM
A misdemeanor domestic assault charge against the Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot 19-year-old Fong Lee has been dropped. Jason Thomas Andersen, 32, was charged in Sherburne County in June with one count of fifth-degree domestic assault. A female involved in the incident was also charged with misdemeanor assault, which was later dismissed. Andersen was suspended with pay in June after the charge was filed. The charge was dismissed because of insufficient evidence to proceed to trial, according to prosecutors. Fred Bruno, Andersen's attorney, said: "We are hopeful that the city of Minneapolis respects this decision and returns officer Andersen to the streets of Minneapolis. He and our citizens deserve no less"...

OFFICER 'S ASSAULT CHARGE DISMISSED
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
Friday, September 4, 2009
Charges have been dropped against a Minneapolis police officer accused of assaulting his girlfriend earlier this summer. Jason Anderson, 32, was charged in July with misdemeanor domestic assault stemming from an alleged incident June 14 at the officer 's home in Big Lake. He was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, [ALN], 29, of Howard Lake. "Sufficient admissible evidence does not exist at this time to proceed to trial," Coon Rapids City Attorney Stoney Hiljus wrote in the Monday dismissal...

OFFICER WHO SHOT FONG LEE CLEARED OF DOMESTIC ASSAULT
KARE11
Sep 4, 2009
...Police were called to Andersen's Big Lake home on June 14th. The chief told KARE 11 at the time that the call was about a physical altercation that apparently started in Minneapolis. While exactly what happened isn't entirely clear, authorities say a woman Andersen had a relationship with suffered some injuries. He was arrested and taken to the Sherburne County jail...
[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder justified shooting recant* blue wall]

1 comment:

  1. COMMUNITY SEEKS JUSTICE IN FONG LEE SHOOTING
    Hmong Today
    By Wameng Moua
    August 04, 2006
    [Excerpts] ...After he had invited himself to speak at the family’s press conference at City Hall, chief Dolan did show edited footage from the school’s three surveillance cameras to family members and a few selected community leaders... [Lee Pao Xiong from the Hmong Advocacy Coalition after watching the video] “It would have been much more genuine if we could have been allowed to see each of the three videos in its entirety, rather than what could only have been an edited version that the police wanted us to see”... Questioning the police seems to be the ongoing theme for family members of Fong Lee. They question why it took more than 12 hours for the police to notify the family of Fong’s death? They question why the police refused to allow the family to identify Fong’s body until nearly a week had passed by? They question why officer Andersen was put back to work after only three days of paid administrative leave... They question why it took eight frontal shots... And above all, they question the contention made by police that Fong was carrying a gun that evening in view of the fact that no other witness, including the video cameras, saw a gun... [Full article here]

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