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Taser Handgun Taser Mixup Article Rochester Mn 2002(2)

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13 . 2002

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Scott Jacobson /Post-Bulletin

Roch ester Police Chief Roger Peterson dem onstrates the similarity In size and shape of
t he Teeere and handguns Issued to Rochester police.

Police chief: Officer thought he was using a Taser
By Joshua l ynch

Th e Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has concl uded a

Roches ter police officer th ought
he was using a stun gun whe n he
fired a bullet int o the ba ck of
Chri slofar Ata k on Sept. 2.
Rochester Police Chief Roger
Pet erson said Office r Gre g Sle m.
a six-year veteran with the
dep artm en t, was trying to su bdue
an intoxicate d Atak when he
accidental ly use d hi s ha ndgun
instead of hill Tase r; a non-letha l
device Ihat uses an electric
shock to incap acitat e a pe rso n.
Pete rson sa id Siem shot Atak
once before reaIizing his mistak e. Stem then dr opped his
p istol and ca lled for medi cal
ass ista nce .
"I think the iss ue for the community has always been whe ther
thi s was accide nta l or Inten- .
tiona I," Peterso n sa id. "We know
now that th is was accide nta l."
William L. Fr ench, an atto rne y
hire d by Atak's famil y, dec lin ed
to comment this morn ing on th e
resu lts of the bure au's inves tigati on. F re nch said he and another
attorney, Steven Fu ller, will be
doing their own investigation.
"It's a very unfort un ate inci dent," French said. Atak came to
the Unit ed States as a re fugee of
civil war from Sudan. "This
family moved to get away from
violence and they find them-

• Family's attorneys want
to talk to officers

-Page 3A
se lves n znt back In It. "
Peterson said both Siem and
Office r Doug Remling responde d
the even ing of Septz to a report
of Atak fighting and damaging
pro perty at 1001 50th St. N .W.
Rem ling was Ute first on the
sce ne . As Rem ling drove up,
Peterson sa id, Atak.,31,ju mped
in front of the squad car. Remling stopped, got out of his ca r
and approached Atak Peterson
sa id Remli ng th en heard the
man thr ea ten suici de .
Fro m another squad car. Siem
watched as Rem ling and Atak
sta rte d scuffling, Peterson said
that as Stem left his vehicle, he
took a Taser from the vehicle
and placed it in his right-hand
pants pocket.
The Tasers used by Rochester
police are similar in sha pe to
handgun s.
Pet erson said Remling contin ued to try to restr ain Atak, but
W8 1l unsu ccessful. Siem then
beca me involved in the scuffle,
Peterson said, and both officers
told Ata k an estimated 10 times
to place his hands on the squad
ca r. Peterso n said that ea ch li me

Ute officers tried to hand cuff
Atak.,the man fought back..
At one poin t, Siem grabb ed
what he thought was the Tnser;
Pet erson said. Instead, Stern had
grabbed his ha ndgun and
removed it from its holste r.
Believing the handgun to be th e
Thser, Siem pointed it at Atak's
back while Atak was being held
aga inst a squad car.
Peterson said Atak was then
shot once in the back by Stern.
Peters on said it is possible the
'la ser that Siem had earlier
placed in his pocket was
knocked from him during the
scuffle. The Taser was found on
the ground near the squ ad cars.
Atak, who remains hosp ital ized. was listed in fair cond ition
thi s morning at Saint Marys Hospital.
Peterson sa id he spoke
Thursday with Atak to ex plain
Ute BCA's find ings and forma lly
"Wh ile office rs had no intent
to cause inju ry to Mr. Atak, we
deeply regret the fact that th is
occur re d," Peters on sa id. "We
exte nd our sincere apo logies to
Mr. Atak an d his family and our
th oughts and prayers go out to
th em as well as to the officers
involved ."
Peterson sa id both officers,
who have been on administrative
leave since th e shooting, can
return to work when they are

SlarTribune- Slale Ed,
.. lnnn plIIII - St. Paul

1.1'1 "'"



SEP 14, 2002

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BCA: .Gun mixup led
to man's being shot
by Rochester officer
Stun gun was intended weapon
Associated Press

ROCHESTER- A Rochester police officer tho ught he
was using a srun gun when he
fired a bullet into the back of
a man he was trying to subd ue, the state Bureau of
Criminal Ap pre he ns ion has
Roc hes ter Police Chief
Roger Peterson said the BCA
investigation found that officer Greg Siem, a six-year veteran with the department,
was trying to subdue Christo far Atak on Sept 2 when he
acci dentally used his handgun instead of his Taser, a
nonlethal device that uses an
electric shock to incapacitate
a person.
Peterson said Siem shot
Atak once , the n dro pped his
pistol and called for medical
Atak was listed in fair condition Friday at St. Marys
Ho spital. Peterson said he
spoke Thursday with Atak to
explai n the BCA's fin di ngs
and formally apologize.
He said both officers, who
have been on administrative
leave since the shooting, can
return to work when they are

ready .
William L. French, an attomey hired by Atak's family,
declined to comment Friday
on the results of the BCA in'vestigation, French said he
and another attorney, Steven
Fuller, will do their own investigation.
Atak, 31, is a refugee from
The police chief said Siem
and officer Doug Remling re sponded the evening of Sept
2 to a report of an int oxicated
man fighting an d damaging
Peterson said Remling was
trying unsu ccessfully to re strain Atak, and Siem became
involved in the scuffle, Both
officers told Atak an estimated 10 times to place his hands
on the squad car. The chief
said that each time the officers trie d to handcu ff Atak ,
the man fought back.
Siem grabbed what he
tho ught was the Taser, Peterson said . Instead, he h a d
grabbed his h andgun, with
which he sho t Atak once.
The Taser was foun d on
the ground near-the squad