A woman called Coon Rapids Police in a panic early Sunday morning, reporting a person in a black coat was in her backyard.
She said she’d heard a loud noise outside her house in the 2700 block of 121st Lane, but couldn’t tell exactly where it came from.
Police suspected a burglary was underway. They drove to the scene and quickly spotted someone in a nearby backyard shed with a flashlight.
An officer with a K-9 ordered the “suspect” to come out of the shed. There was no response. The officer called out additional warnings – 10 to 15, according to the Coon Rapids Police Department – and still the person did not emerge. Additional officers arrived before they unleashed a police dog on the shed to take down whomever was inside.
The “suspect” turned out to be an 82-year-old Hmong grandma named Choua Xiong. She had gotten up early to do some work in her own shed, in her own backyard.
She was hard of hearing and did not comprehend the officer’s commands.
Xiong’s grandson, WaamXee Xiong, heard about his grandma’s K-9 attack after she had been transported to the hospital. He met her there, where he tried to question a Coon Rapids officer about how he could have mistaken an old lady for a burglar. The officer did not explain, but the Coon Rapids Police Department posted the audio recording of the incident to its Facebook page Monday night, along with a statement.
“The department understands there is public concern on social media about the way this incident appears at first glance. However, with the facts the officers were dealing with at the time, including dispatch information and assessment of the scene, they responded to the incident in an appropriate manner. Officers are trained to speak clear, simple commands in the hopes that officers can be understood when they are dealing with people on calls. It is always our goal to have a safe outcome for all citizens and officers, no matter the circumstances.”
WaamXee Xiong says his grandma tried to fight off the K-9 at first, but suffered a nasty bite to her wrist. Afterward, she said she was dragged from the shed into a squad car, receiving a sprained ankle and bruised knees in the process.
She is now in the hospital, barely talking. She told WaamXee Xiong that her chest feels constrictedand it’s hard to breathe.
“They didn’t see her in the storage. They just see the flashlight. That’s what they told us,” WaamXee Xiong says. “If you don’t see nothing and you just see some people inside, why did you let your K-9 go in there?”
The family has not yet decided what they will do, whether file a complaint or a lawsuit, he says.