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Community leaders demand resignation of head of U.S. Marshals Service in Minnesota

"We are demanding transparency, accountability, and integrity," said CAIR-MN's executive director.
CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.

CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.

Leaders from a number of Twin Cities community groups are calling for the U.S. Marshal for the District of Minnesota to resign over the fatal law enforcement shooting of Winston Smith.

The head of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), in conjunction with Black Lives Matter, Racial Justice Network and other local community groups, at a Tuesday morning news conference demanded Ramona Dohman step down as head of the U.S. Marshals Service in the state.

They also argued Minnesota law enforcement should stop working with the federal agency until better transparency and accountability policies exist.

"We are now here again talking about a Black person who was killed by law enforcement in the state of Minnesota," CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said at the news conference, calling Smith's killing proof that "the system in this state is fundamentally flawed, and the federal oversight is fundamentally flawed."

Dohman, a longtime police officer who was confirmed as United States Marshal for the District of Minnesota in June of 2019, is responsible for "overseeing daily operations" of all Marshals Service activities in the state, including "fugitive apprehension," according to her bio.

It was the Marshals Service's North Star Fugitive Task Force that was attempting to apprehend Smith on Thursday, June 3, when he was fatally shot by two county deputies assigned to the task force. Authorities have said this is no body camera or squad car footage of the shooting.

Related: BCA: 2 deputies shot at Winston Smith, no bodycam footage available

In a statement, Hussein said the Marshals Service's "mishandling" of the confrontation with Smith is grounds for Dohman's resignation.

Dohman has had a long career in law enforcement, serving with police departments in Glencoe and Marshall, before joining Maple Grove PD in 1984, where she would go on to become chief of police. In 2011, she was appointed public safety commissioner for the state of Minnesota by Gov. Mark Dayton. She left the post in 2019 and was nominated that year by former president Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Marshal for the District of Minnesota.

Monique Cullars-Doty, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Minnesota, called the North Star Fugitive Task Force's actions on June 3 "completely reckless," arguing the agency's deliberate prohibition on the use of body cameras is "an intentional lack of transparency and an intentional lack of accountability."

"We're not talking about a serial killer," she said of Smith, with regards to the task force's approach. "We're talking about a local man, a father of three children, a comedian, a brother, a son. Someone who was loved by many."

She, Hussein and Nekima Levy-Armstrong, head of the Racial Justice Network, repeatedly called for President Joe Biden to replace Dohman, and for local leaders - including Gov. Tim Walz, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher and Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson – to share what they know about Smith's shooting, and what they are going to do going forward.

Fletcher on Monday, amid increasing scrutiny about the U.S. Marshals Service's banning of body cameras, said he will bar Ramsey County deputies from being assigned to the fugitive task force until body cameras are allowed, the Pioneer Press reported

Smith was shot by two deputies, one from Ramsey County and one from Hennepin County.

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