Police: Man falsely said black male among shooters

Published 10:55 am Friday, February 4, 2011

DULUTH, Minn. — Police say they believe a Duluth man made two false claims to a 911 operator: that someone else inflicted his gunshot wound and that a black man was among the purported assailants.

The Duluth News Tribune reported Friday that Alcide Thomas Cloutier, 34, made the 911 call Jan. 22 after he suffered what police have determined was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen. The newspaper obtained a transcript of the call.

Police spokesman Jim Hansen said he wouldn’t speculate on why Cloutier said a black male was involved, and that police had no reason to believe it was a racist incident.

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Cloutier, who has a criminal record, is now charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality. He has not been charged with falsely reporting a crime. The newspaper says he couldn’t be reached for comment in the hospital where police said he’s still being treated for a gunshot wound to the left side of his lower abdomen.

According to the criminal complaint, Cloutier told police he saw a female being assaulted by two males inside a vehicle. He said he stopped to intervene and one of the men shot him. According to the 911 transcript, Cloutier said one of the males was black.

Claudie Washington, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, said he believes Cloutier’s claim was racist. He speculated Cloutier’s motivation could have been to “legitimize his complaint by saying a black person was involved. . I commend the police department for not buying into the story.”