Relatives demand answers as IDs in police shooting emerge

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Relatives of a man shot to death by St. Paul police officers have joined calls for the immediate release of the officers’ body camera videos and the 911 call that preceded his death.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement Tuesday that William James Hughes, 43, died of multiple gunshot wounds early Sunday after officers responded to a 911 call of multiple shots fired on the upper floor of the St. Paul apartment building where he lived.

The BCA said its preliminary investigation found that Officers Matthew Jones and Vincent Adams entered an enclosed porch and knocked on one of two exterior apartment doors. Hughes emerged from the other door and at some point the officers shot him. He died at the scene.

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Hughes’ relatives and their supporters held a vigil Monday evening outside the Minneapolis American Indian Center, beating a drum and singing in his honor.

He was a member of the White Earth Nation, an Ojibwe band based in northern Minnesota. They said his death was especially painful because his cousin was killed in a confrontation with police in 2015.

“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,” said his cousin, Dannah Thompson.

The BCA’s statement didn’t say why the officers opened fire or give any other details about what transpired during the confrontation. But police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernester said Sunday that the man was armed with a handgun, and that their body cameras were activated. A gun was recovered at the scene, the BCA said without providing further details about the weapon.

Asked what led officers to shoot and where the gun was recovered, BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said those details are part of the ongoing investigation, and that under state law the agency can’t discuss active investigations.

Thompson said the family wants police to immediately release the officers’ body camera video and 911 calls.

When the family found out about Hughes’ death, they said, “Not again,” his aunt said.