Family wants answers after shooting
ST. PAUL—When the family of William "Billy" James Hughes found out he had been fatally shot by St. Paul police officers, they said, "Not again," his aunt explained Monday, Aug. 6.
A cousin of Hughes', Philip Quinn, was killed in a confrontation with officers in St. Paul in 2015.
"When is it going to stop?" Kathy Ficken, the aunt of Hughes and Quinn, said as she wept after a rally in Minneapolis. "They have to stop. ... They're ruining everybody's life. ... He needs justice."
Police said they were called to a multi-unit rental property in St. Paul about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 5. They were summoned by a 911 caller who reported multiple shots fired, according to police.
When officers arrived, they encountered a man with a gun, police said Sunday. Two officers fired and struck the man. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating and has not released additional information. A spokesman said they would when initial interviews are completed. But family and community members called for answers on Monday.
"Our community experienced a terrible tragedy" when Hughes, 43, was killed, said Dannah Thompson, Hughes' cousin. She described him as beloved and said he was a member of the White Earth Nation, a northern Minnesota Ojibwe community.
"Through our grief and difficulty, we have been left with more questions than answers as to why police officers decided to abruptly and violently take Billy's life," Thompson said.
Officers' body cameras were activated at the time of the shooting, and Mayor Melvin Carter is "looking for an expedited release" of the footage, Liz Xiong, his press secretary, said Monday.
Carter canceled his scheduled plans and meetings on Sunday and Monday "to really focus on this and work with the chief of police and BCA (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) to move along releasing the video as soon as possible," Xiong said.
Resident saw man's body on front porch
Mary Pinales, who lives in the residence where Hughes was killed, said she was awakened early Sunday by a gunshot. She looked outside and saw police. Pinales said police officers banged on her door, told her to put her hands up and asked if anyone else was up there. She said they checked her apartment and then led her down the stairs, the only way out.
At the bottom of the stairs, on the enclosed front porch, Pinales said she saw her neighbor and could tell he was already dead.
Pinales said she was barefoot, and officers lifted her up to carry her over the blood and outside.
The wood floor was still bloodstained Sunday night, but Pinales found the blood had apparently been scraped off when she returned Monday morning. There were small holes in the porch's wall that Pinales said weren't there before and she believes are bullet holes.
Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl who lives in the building with her family said she was in her bedroom, just below the porch, and talking to her best friend on the phone early Sunday. She heard loud footsteps on the porch above, which she figures were officers' shoes. She then heard shouting and gunshots. Her friend asked, "What is that?" and she responded, "bullets!"
The girl said she dived under her bed. Her father asked that she not be identified for her safety.
Pinales, who didn't know Hughes well, said he had moved in to the building four or five months ago. He was a quiet person who did maintenance work around the property. When Pinales needed her lights fixed, her landlord told her to knock on her neighbor's door and Hughes helped her. He also did painting around the home, Pinales recalled.
ACLU calls for transparency
Teresa Nelson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, called on Sunday for the officers' body camera footage to be released.
Nelson said on Monday that U.S. Department of Justice best practices indicate that preliminary incident information should be released to the public within eight hours, and she said the federal agency also recommends within 24 hours that authorities should brief community leaders and lay out a timeline of the investigatory process.
"Whenever police kill someone, it is a tragedy," Nelson said in Monday's statement. "A police shooting can affect the whole community. The residents of St. Paul along with the family of the unnamed individual deserve to know what happened in this tragic incident."
In the case of Phillip Quinn, Hughes' cousin who was killed in 2015, a grand jury did not file charges against the officers involved.
One cop is son of slain officer
The BCA hasn't released the names of the officers who shot the man, but sources said they are Matthew Jones and Vincent Adams, who both became St. Paul officers in 2013.
Jones was 8 years old when his father, St. Paul officer Tim Jones, was shot and killed. It was during the search for the man who fatally shot fellow officer Ron Ryan Jr. earlier on Aug. 26, 1994.
Ron Ryan Sr., a retired St. Paul police commander and father of Ron Ryan Jr., said he was glad to hear the officers were uninjured Sunday, but "as far as the toll it takes on them emotionally and the damage done to their family, it's tremendous, especially in this day and age."
Ryan said he got to know the young Jones after the 1994 murders, for which Guy Harvey Baker was sent to prison.
"Matt has kind of the same personality as his dad," Ryan said Monday. "His dad was very social, and Matt seems to be the same way. He's very serious about the job from everyone I talk to, and I hear that he's a great officer."
Generally speaking, reports of someone shooting a gun in a house "are probably one of the most dangerous calls (officers) go on," said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman.
"No officer ever wants to be involved in a situation like this," Ernster said Sunday. "It's something that changes them forever and obviously impacts the families involved in this, and our heart goes out to them. It's a tragic situation."