Humphrey Rejects Investigation Request but Agrees To Review Other Issues
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The state’s attorney general refused Thursday to reopen an investigation into the fatal shootings of two 13-year-old Hmong boys by a police officer.
″For me to go forward with (a new investigation) would raise serious ethical questions,″ Hubert H. Humphrey III said after meeting for about two hours with a coalition representing Minnesota’s minority communities.
A Dakota County grand jury on Dec. 8 refused to indict Kenneth Murphy, an Inver Grove Height police officer, for the fatal shootings Nov. 15 of Ba See Lor and Thai Yang, both from St. Paul.
The boys were shot in the back as they fled from a stolen car.
The officer told authorities he believed Yang was pointing a gun at him. Police found no weapon, but they believe Murphy mistook a screwdriver found near the boys’ bodies for a pistol.
The attorney general’s office investigated the shooting at the request of Dakota County authorities and presented the case to a Dakota County grand jury, which on Dec. 8 declined to indict Murphy.
Humphrey defended the state’s investigation Thursday, and said the case could not be reopened unless significant new evidence were disclosed.
Although Humphrey refused to reopen the case, members of the coalition said they were satisfied with his plan to appoint a task force to look into their other concerns.
″We had what I would consider a very good meeting,″ said Steve Zachary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
John Huyen, president of the Vietnamese-American Association, said the coalition’s main concern is to prevent future incidents.
About 350 people attended a vigil for the dead boys in the Capitol Rotunda while Humphrey met first with the boys’ families and then with the coalition representatives.
Among the coalition’s other requests were:
-Annual training for all law enforcement officers and attorneys representing law enforcement agencies on the use of deadly force and on the cultural diversity in their communities.
-A code of conduct for law enforcement officers with special emphasis on the use of deadly force.
-Creation of panel with powers of a grand jury to review allegations of police misconduct and violations of the proposed code of conduct.
″What we need to do is turn the tragedy of these circumstances into the opportunity to realize that we must confront racism and discrimination, ″ Humphrey said. ″We must use this as an opportunity to look toward the future as to how we can prevent that in Minnesota.″
Yusef Mgeni, president of the Urban Coalition of Minneapolis and an organizer of the vigil, said the minority communities were united in protesting the deaths.
″This is not just a Southeast Asian issue,″ Mgeni said. ″It affects all communities of color.″
Mgeni said there were parallels between the Inver Grove Heights shooting and other recent shootings of minority members in the Twin Cities, as well as in incidents of alleged police brutality against non-whites.
The vigil was held ″to keep this and similar cases in the public eye,″ Mgeni said, ″and to try to prevent an incident like this from reoccurring, with anybody’s children: white, black, red, brown or yellow.″