DFLers criticize police for shooting armed man who threatened others with knife

One Minneapolis City Council member has already accused St. Paul police of murder.

DFL legislators said they are "standing in solidarity" with Yia Xiong, a 65-year-old man who was shot and killed by St. Paul police on Feb. 11 while threatening police officers with a 16-inch knife. (St. Paul Police Department)

DFL legislators said they are “standing in solidarity” with Yia Xiong, a 65-year-old man who was shot and killed by St. Paul police on Feb. 11 while threatening police officers with a 16-inch knife.

Bodycam footage released by the St. Paul Police Department shows Xiong moving towards two St. Paul police officers wielding a knife, failing to comply with repeated orders to drop the knife.

“As we grieve Yia Xiong, we stand in solidarity with his family and community as they mourn this life taken by St. Paul law enforcement,” a statement from the Minnesota House and Senate DFL People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus said.

“We, the members of the POCI Caucus, are united in solidarity and in struggle with Asian and Hmong communities, who face targeted discrimination and violence by individuals, police, and the racist, anti-immigrant, and ableist structures that undergird our society. We must work together with renewed urgency to create a Minnesota free of systemic racism and institutional violence,” the statement continued.

In the bodycam footage, St. Paul police can be seen entering an apartment building where Xiong was allegedly threatening people with his knife in a common area. Individuals can be heard begging police to “please hurry” and to help them.

The officers, Abdirahman Dahir and Noushue Cha, then ordered Xiong to drop his knife and when he did not, they followed him to an apartment unit that Xiong entered. When police pushed the door open, Xiong turned and advanced on them with a knife.

Cha deployed his taser, and Dahir discharged his rifle. Neither officer is white, but DFL legislators implied that Xiong’s death was an example of “systemic racism.”

The officers have been placed on administrative leave. Activists are demanding that both officers be fired and charged with murder, despite Cha never firing a gun, according to the Pioneer Press.

“The truth is that Hmong elders are calling for justice for Yia Xiong, murdered by SPPD,” Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley posted on Twitter, sharing photos from a Justice for Yia Xiong Protest.

Videos show Philando Castile’s mother speaking during the protest, saying, “They was coming to kill because somebody said there was a weapon involved.”

Protesters marched through the streets chanting, “I am deaf, don’t shoot. No English, don’t shoot.” The investigation is still being conducted. Xiong’s family claims that he was hard of hearing and did not speak English.

St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry said during a press conference that based on the bodycam footage, it appears as if the responding officers followed protocol during the interaction.

“We always try to deploy, and in this case we did, a less-lethal option,” Henry said. “But we always have the presence of that backup piece of equipment to make sure that if that less-lethal option is not going to work, that other piece of equipment is in place.”


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.