Some of you might remember this story from July 2006, in which 19-year-old Fong Lee was shot nine times by a Minnesota police officer. Lee died; officer Jason Andersen received the Medal of Valor for that incident.
Lee was said to have been holding a gun. A Baikal .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol was retrieved near his dead body. Forensic tests did not find Lee’s fingerprints or DNA on the gun. A video forensics expert examined surveillance footage of the event and concluded Lee did not have a gun.
Now his family is filing a lawsuit stating that evidence shows the gun was planted. What does the police department have to say?
Sgt. Jesse Garcia, spokesman for the Police Department, said, “Lawsuits like this take away from the fact that officer Andersen used good tactics and excellent officer survival skills to prevent the loss of his or his partner’s life.”
There were “survival skills” involved, but they involved what transpired afterwards:
Two days after Lee’s death, the gun was traced to a Minneapolis man who had reported it stolen in February 2004. The gun was recovered shortly after the theft by the police department and remained in its custody pending the burglary suspects’ trial. The original owner states that he never regained possession of the weapon. It was kept at the precinct where Officer Andersen was stationed. In addition, the first responder to the Lee shooting was the police officer who had investigated the 2004 theft.
On August 1, 2006, ten days after Lee’s death and more than two years after the gun was recovered, Lt. Michael Fossum wrote a supplemental report claiming the gun recovered after the theft was a Belgian-made FNH 7.65-caliber handgun and not the Baikal .380-caliber semi-automatic found by Lee’s body.
What does the spokesperson for the department have to say?
He also denied any conspiracy in the police department to plant a gun or alter evidence.
“As for conspiracy, they might as well start that affidavit with the words, ‘Once upon a time,’ ” Garcia said.
Once upon a time police were able to plant evidence and get away with it. Hopefully, that’s not the way this story ends.