Jul. 10—In the early morning hours Sunday, the July 4th holiday, Ricardo Torres Jr. lost his life in a reported confrontation with Olivia Police Department Officer Aaron Clouse in the Renville County town.
There is little information released yet about what exactly happened at 2:20 a.m. in that Olivia alleyway located on the 800 block of East Lincoln Avenue.
A July 4 news release from the city of Olivia stated that Torres was armed and confronted Officer Clouse in that Olivia alleyway. The officer discharged his weapon and Torres was shot. Torres was then transported by ambulance to Olivia Hospital and Clinic, where he was pronounced dead.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension wrote in a news release this week that a shotgun was found near where Torres was shot. The BCA reported that there was no dash camera or other known video of the shooting. Olivia police officers do not wear body cameras, according to city officials.
The shooting remains under investigation by the state BCA.
Both families of the individuals involved and the residents of Olivia are awaiting the BCA investigation report. There is anger and frustration for many.
The Torres family and friends are hurting due to the loss of their son, sibling, father, boyfriend and friend. He remains now only in their memories. They are questioning why this happened to their loved one. That is understandable.
The Clouse family is hurting from the involvement of their loved one in a police shooting. They face the actual realization and fear of the dangers that law enforcement officers face each day as they seek to protect and serve their community. That is understandable.
The Olivia community is hurting as such an event is not expected to happen in small-town west central Minnesota.
But it did. Now these families and the community are changed forever.
In the meantime, some unfortunate behavior has become apparent in several ways.
As Torres' family and friends planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening near a makeshift memorial near the Olivia alleyway where Torres lost his life, the rumors began swirling.
One false rumor was that people were rioting on Olivia's streets and law enforcement were standing on rooftops to protect businesses. This was false. There were other rumors as well. Again, false.
Then during the Wednesday memorial vigil, a group of individuals driving pickups and flying American, Trump and blue line support flags circled the block, revving their engines loudly, profane shouting at the vigil attendees and shutting down the street for a period of time. Eventually, law enforcement asked them to move on.
Granted that both those mourners attending the memorial vigil and the pickup drivers and riders have the right to free speech under the First Amendment.
Certainly, the memorial vigil attendees were peaceable and were remembering their loved one. Though some were profane in confronting the vigil protestors also.
However, the pickup protesters' conduct was distasteful, inappropriate and could possibly even be considered illegal. There actually is a Minnesota Statute 609.501 making it a crime to disrupt a funeral or memorial service or target the home or domicile of a member of the deceased person's family or household on the date of the funeral ceremony, graveside service or memorial service.
Certainly, one can question whether these pickup drivers would have protested this memorial vigil if the shooting victim was white; instead of Latino. It is food for thought.
Tensions in Minnesota have increased in recent years due to the deaths of individuals in police custody, police chases or police shooting incidents. It is time for all of us to take a deep breath.
Let the families of the deceased mourn in peace. They are hurting. They are part of our communities.
Remember to support our law enforcement members and their families. They too are part of our communities.
This Tribune Opinion editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune Editorial Board, consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.