No charges against St. Paul officers who fatally shot man in October 2017

August 9, 2018

No charges will be filed against two St. Paul police officers who fatally shot a 28-year-old man in the street after a domestic dispute in October 2017.

Ramsey County John Chois office made the decision after an investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) into the death of Phumee Lee. The decision means officers Daniel Gleason and Jordan Wild wont face criminal prosecution in the fatal encounter on Euclid Street in the Daytons Bluff neighborhood that was captured on their body cameras as well as on a residents private security camera.

In a letter released Thursday, Choi agreed with the findings of two staff attorneys who wrote in a 15-page memo that there was no question the officers knew they were responding to a dangerous situation involving a suspect who had held a woman and children at gunpoint and threatened to kill them and had shot his weapon inside the home on Earl Street.

When officers encountered Lee on the sidewalk, they could be heard through body camera audio repeatedly ordering Lee to stop, the memo said.

On the video, Lee stopped, turned and began walking toward the officers, raising his arms and reaching into his pocket with his right hand. Some officers sought cover behind trees, Choi wrote. Lee pointed his hand at the officers, who yelled at him to drop it and show us your hands, Chois memo said.

The video clearly shows a flash emanate from the object in Mr. Lees right hand immediately before he falls onto the street, Choi wrote, adding that simultaneously or right before, Wild fired six rounds at Lee and Gleason fired 10. A .38-caliber handgun was recovered 18 inches from Lees hand on the ground, the memo said.

No officers were hurt, but a police dog was treated for a minor injury at the Veterinary Medical Center at the University of Minnesota.

Gleason and Wild were placed on three-day administrative leave, the standard policy, and have since returned to work.

Police Chief Todd Axtell issued a written statement Thursday regarding the Lee shooting, saying hes grateful the community now knows the truth: Lees actions forced officers to protect themselves and others.

The chief said the incident shows how dangerous policing can be and that no one was celebrating Chois decision. He also said, Too often, in tragic situations like this, some people rush to judgment, come to conclusions not based on facts, and succumb to their emotions, which can sometimes interfere with reality.

Records show that Lee had a history of abusing the woman who called 911, also 28. He had violently attacked her in the past and was most recently jailed for allegedly driving drunk while in possession of a gun.

Jurors convicted Lee of felony domestic assault in 2013. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, which was stayed for five years probation. Lee pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault in two separate cases in 2009. His girlfriend told police in 2012 that he had previously been arrested for assaulting her and his ex-wife.

Gleason, who was one of five St. Paul officers to help rescue a suicidal man attempting to jump off the High Bridge above the Mississippi River in 2014, was later recognized by the department with a Life Saving Award. His partner, Wild, is a Navy veteran.

Lees death was the most recent officer-involved shooting until William Hughes was shot by police early Sunday in his home Summit-University neighborhood.

Axtell and Mayor Melvin Carter have said they will release the body camera footage of the Hughes shooting within days.

The BCA is also handling the investigation into the shooting of Hughes.

Rochelle Olson 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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