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home : community : community Sunday, October 22, 2017

2/23/2017 1:54:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Elderly Woman Attacked By Police Dog In Her Own Backyard

By Amy Doeun

Choua Xiong is recovering in the hospital after she was bitten by a Coon Rapids police dog February 5th while rummaging through her backyard shed. Photo courtesy Choua Xiong's family.
It was early in the morning on Sunday February 5th when Choua Xiong, 83, went to retrieve something from her shed. There was no light in the shed so she took a flashlight. She was planning to take her grandson to church later in the morning.

The police account of the morning says that a neighbor called 911 around 6:40 am saying that there was a burglar in her backyard. The female neighbor said that the "suspicious person was over 5-foot-tall and wearing a large black coat." Later, the neighbor sounded even more panicked and reported hearing a loud noise coming from her garage, police stated, according to MPR. The neighbor consistently referred to the suspect as a "he."

Police arrived on the scene and spotted Xiong in her shed. MPR said, "They assumed it was a burglary suspect... in the darkness, police believed the person in the shed was a man."

They called out to Xiong, but Xiong is both hard of hearing and does not speak English. She said later that she did hear voices outside.

After calling 10-15 times the officers released a K9 dog, Taz, and Xiong was bitten by the dog. Coon Rapids police chief Brad Wise said, "Though the incident was tragic it was also bizarre. It feels like lightning, like a one-in-a-million chance. And I don't know how to avoid these one-in-a-million chances."

Wise went on to say that he would not investigate his officers, "as unfortunate as the incident was, they acted appropriately given the information they had on hand." He said he's never experienced a case like this, said MPR.

He went on to say that it appeared that the information from the 911 call and what they saw when they arrived on the scene seemed to "square up."

He never considered that there might be an elderly woman who didn't speak English inside the shed. "We're all shocked. It's sad. I'm devastated that this woman suffered a puncture wound."

Xiong's family has hired an attorney. Benjamin Gallagher said, "To characterize this as something as unique or wholly unexpected is missing the larger picture and completely, in my mind, discounts the presence of the entire immigrant community in the Twin Cities."

Other Hmong Americans are responding. Tou Ger Bennett Xiong said he questioned the training of the officers in responding to situations like this. "To unleash a deadly weapon onto a vulnerable citizen who is within her own property is alarming," he said. "To think that our grandmothers are not safe in their own homes should concern everyone."

Gallagher added, "She is significantly traumatized. Her body and her mind are both reacting negatively to the trauma she sustained." He added, "There needs to be a recognition of those issues by city officials," referring to the fact that there are immigrants in the Twin Cities that don't speak English and don't know how to respond to the police.

Suab Hmong News reports that Xiong said, "Two dogs attacked me. One bit my left hand and I pulled the water hole set to protect me from the second one." She added that when she started yelling the police called off the dogs and officers then went in and dragged her from the shed to a police car.

"Two police grabbed me. One grabbed my hands and one grabbed by waist and dragged me. My legs and body pain all over from the police dragged me," said Xiong.

Xiong's grandson Seng Vang said that he was woken up only after the incident was over. "This morning at 7:00, I heard people knocking on my windows and my door and said this is the police. I woke up and I went to the door and the police were at my door and asked me if there is an elderly woman livivg here and I said yes she is my grandma. The police said they have a report that a burglary was taking place and they let their dog bit her and she is at their car. The police officers asked for information about my grandma and myself and said they will take my grandma to the hospital."

If anyone has any questions regarding this case, you can call and talk to Brad Wise, Police Chief for Coon Rapids Police Department at 763-767-6401.




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