St. Paul Mayor, Officials Largely Defend Killing of 65-Year-Old Man – One Councilperson Has Sharp Questions after Recently Released Body Cam Footage of Deadly Shooting 

By Kimberly Torres 

ST. PAUL, MINN – After the release of body camera footage, officials here largely defended the killing of a 65-year-old man this week by a St. Paul police officer.

According to coverage in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Mayor Melvin Carter said he and Police Chief Axel Henry are committed to releasing body camera videos as soon as possible when an officer uses deadly force—after witness statements are collected and next of kin have an opportunity to view it.

“Last Saturday officers responded to the Winslow Commons building on the 100 block of Southwestern Avenue at 4:55 p.m. after someone called 911 and reported a man was kicked out of a party on the first floor common room… the caller said that the man later returned with a knife and was threatening people with it… several more residents called 911,” wrote Twin Cities Pioneer Press reporter Mara H. Gottfried.

The body cam footage once officers arrived at the scene shows “they are seen being directed into the building where they found Xiong…officers kicked the door to stop it from fully shutting and ordered him to come out… then they backed away from the door and down the short alleyway. Xiong opened the door and stepped into the hallway knife still in hand,” wrote Gottfried.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said, “Yia Xiong was holding a 16-in knife when an officer shot him…Xiong Died from multiple gunshot wounds. Xiong lived in the low-income Rental Community for people who are 62 Plus or disabled,” meaning that he was a resident who lived in that building and was not homeless.

Chief of Police Axel Henry said “the people who were having a gathering in the common room, reported a man threatening them with a knife, believed he might be homeless.”

After the body cam footage was released to the public, St. Paul city council member Nelsie Yang said, “This could have turned out a very different way, and Yia Xiong should be alive today… I do feel that there’s so much injustice done”

The president of the police federation stated, “Nobody wins in a situation like this. Our officers were put in a position by a non-compliant man with a deadly weapon where there was no other option”

But, asked Yang, “Why couldn’t officers have given the situation time to defuse?”  

Mayor Henry assured the public “when the BCA investigation is complete, the agency will present its findings to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office to determine whether an officer should be criminally charged.” 

About The Author

Kim is a senior at California State University Long Beach majoring in criminal justice and criminology. She is a first generation college student, as well as a first generation Mexican-American. After graduation, she plans to study international affairs, in hopes of cultivating and improving a better system for all.

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