MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The city of Minneapolis has agreed to a $700,000 settlement with family members who were locked inside two squad cars when police killed their father after officers refused their offers to try and help calm him down.
A federal judge ruled that officers were justified in shooting 52-year-old Chiasher Vue after he pointed a rifle at them on Dec. 15, 2019. The settlement will resolve a lawsuit his family filed arguing that police had illegally and unconstitutionally detained them that night.
Chamee Vue and her brothers Hailee and Nou Vue tried to intervene but weren’t allowed out of the police cars. And after the shooting, they spent hours detained in interrogation rooms while police questioned them.
“I couldn’t get out of the car, couldn’t give him reassurance that everything would be OK,” Chamee said.
A language barrier contributed to the incident because Chiasher Vue spoke little English and few officers there that night spoke Hmong. Hailee Vue said he wants the Hmong community to understand what happened to his family, and for their case to be instructive for future policing.
“I just don’t want any other family to go through what the four of us went through,” he said.
Since this incident, Minneapolis police have changed department policy on handling witnesses to say they must be treated in a constitutional manner. A police spokesman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune the policy change wasn’t related to this case, but the Vue siblings say they still take consolation in the change. The new policy makes it more clear that a person who has not been charged with a crime and isn’t being held on probable cause is free to leave at any time.
Family members say Chiasher Vue was going through a mental health crisis and suffering with untreated depression on the night he was killed.
A night of drinking and karaoke spiraled out of control when after a series of quarrels Chiasher fired several shots at a wall inside the house and another one of his sons called 911. An autopsy later determined that Chiasher Vue has a blood alcohol level of 0.20 at the time he was killed.
“Look, my dad is mentally ill … Just let me and my little sister go talk to him. We can talk him out,” Nou Vue said to an unidentified officer, according to squad car footage. “You’re not getting out of the squad. Stop asking,” replied the officer.
But after Vue came out of the house pointing a rifle, he and officers quickly exchanged gunfire. Investigators weren’t able to determine who fired first, but Vue was struck by 13 bullets.