Thursday, 19 February 2015 00:00

Authorities Investigate Death of MN Man After Fight in Body Shop Parking Lot

Hennepin County is investigating the death of a St. Paul man who hit his head on the ground after Brooklyn Center police used a Taser on him, reported startribune.com.

Tensions have been high between police and civilians following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in New York City. Officers of the Brooklyn Center Police Department were sent to the 5800 block of Xerxes Avenue N. shortly after 9 p.m. on Jan. 16 after multiple calls were made about a group fighting in a body shop parking lot, possibly with weapons, reported startribune.com.

According to police, Sinthanouxay Khottavongsa, 57, was one of the several people standing in front of the shop. He was holding a crowbar in a threatening manner, police told startribune.com. Khottavongsa was told repeatedly by police to drop his crowbar before using a Taser on him. He then fell to the ground and hit his head.

Khottavongsa was transported to North Memorial Medical Center and died two days later from what was described by the county medical examiner's office as complications of blunt force head injury, reported startribune.com.

Because an active investigation is still taking place, police and the Hennepin County Sherif's Office would not comment further on the incident.

Public steps have been taken to address the smoldering issue of police-civilian relations by the mayors of both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman recently agreed to ask outside auditors to review the police-civilian board, which investigates citizen complaints against officers, reported startribune.com.

According to KMSP-TV news reports, Khottavongsa was a father of three children and was active in his community as a volunteer and handyman. Originally from Laos, he came to the U.S. in the 1970s, arriving first in Texas where he gained his citizenship before relocating to Minnesota. His family said Khottavongsa was at the body shop helping a friend do some repair work at the time of the incident. Public records indicate he was married to Khamla Khottavongsa, 57.

His family declined to comment, but a gofundme.com page set up to raise money for funeral costs describes Khottavongsa as a compassionate and generous person.