Race, policing and preventing officer-involved shootings still stir strong feelings in St. Paul, and those emotions were on display on the city’s East Side Thursday, not far from where a black man was shot and killed by police earlier this year.
The African American Leadership Council, St. Paul NAACP and St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance sponsored the public forum at Progressive Baptist Church, organized to address concerns following the March 15 police shooting death of 29-year-old Cordale Quinn Handy.
The shooting is still under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and Mayor Chris Coleman told the audience of more than 50 people — most of them African-American — that they couldn’t comment directly on the incident.
Kim Handy Jones recently sued the officers who shot her son. She alleges that officers Mikko Norman and Nathaniel Younce falsified their accounts of what happened when they encountered Handy outside an East Side apartment building. Police were responding to a domestic violence call.
Jones’ lawsuit also alleges the Police Department policies made it possible for the officers to commit misconduct without fear of being disciplined. She vowed to keep pushing investigators to release information to her about what happened.
“Because if it was anyone of you all’s kids in here, you would want answers too,” Jones said. “You would want the truth and you want answers. And I want justice. And I will not stop ’til I get it.”
Before Jones arrived, Axtell expressed a similar sentiment. He said someone had asked, what would he want if he were the grieving parent?
“What I would want is the truth,” Axtell said. “And I’m telling you as your chief of police in St. Paul, that I have full confidence that we will be handed the truth.”
Many people in the audience were not so confident. They blamed what they called a code of silence that discourages officers from coming forward with information that might get one of their fellow cops in trouble. Members of the audience also blamed the police unions for defending troubled officers and helping them get their jobs back after they get fired.
And for some in the audience, the problem with police is that they don’t do enough of the right kind of enforcement.
Chauntyll Allen, a youth organizer in St. Paul, described what happened earlier this week after shots were fired at a Green Line stop near Dale Street and University Avenue. Allen was across the street from the site of the shooting trying to get some young, excited kids out of the area when a squad car pulled up.
Source: MPR News | Brandt Williams