Duy Ngo killed himself hours before trial
Minneapolis police Officer Duy Ngo shot and killed himself at his Mendota Heights home on Monday only a few hours before he was due in court to be cross examined in a case about a woman accused of obstructing justice.
Photo: Mike Dvorak Duy Ngo spoke with City Pages about his ordeal in 2003
Hollie Olson had subsequently filed a lawsuit against Ngo, accusing him of beating and falsely arresting her.
Investigators have not said whether Ngo left any kind of note before shooting himself, but his life since 2003 had been filled with pain after being severely wounded by fellow MPD Officer Charles Storlie in a case of friendly fire during an undercover stakeout.
Ngo was working an undercover drug stakeout in south Minneapolis's Central neighborhood when a man approached his unmarked car shortly after 2 a.m. and shot him once in the chest. The bullet did not pierce Ngo's bulletproof vest, however, and after a brief struggle Ngo chased the man for a short distance and fired shots at him before collapsing to regain his breath after the slug to the chest. He radioed in that an officer was down.
The first cops to arrive at the scene were Storlie and Jamie Conway. Storlie, who later said he mistook Ngo for the suspect thought to have shot Ngo, opened fire with an MP-5 machine gun, hitting Ngo at least six times; Ngo believes he was struck by eight bullets.
In an interview with City Pages later, Ngo made it clear that he felt betrayed by MPD command. The cops released his photo (but not Storlie's, to the media the day after the shooting, effectively ending Ngo's undercover career. And rumors were spread that Ngo had tried to kill himself to avoid an upcoming deployment in the war as a member of the Army Reserve. The environment around the story had become so poisonous that former police Chief Bill McManus publicly apologized to Ngo for his treatment, and debunked the rumor that Ngo had shot himself.
A few months after Ngo went public with his story in City Pages, he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and the Minneapolis City Council eventually approved a record $4.5 million payout to settle the case in 2007.
But in the meantime, there came an allegedly suppressed police memo that described failures in the investigation: Failing to properly secure the scene after the shootings and to collect all the available physical evidence; neglecting to canvass the area thoroughly for witnesses; mishandling Ngo's bulletproof vest and its contents; and losing physical evidence. We also wrote:
The report also seems remarkable for the relative degree of scrutiny cast toward Ngo and Storlie respectively. Its final section lists 14 questions that should have been posed to Ngo after the shooting, but the memo has far less to say in its analysis of Storlie's actions.
That $4.5 million settlement with the city is a lot of money -- a record payout, in fact -- and maybe it eased some of Ngo's pain; he endured dozens of surgeries, along with physical therapy to repair his body.
But lately he'd been assigned to part time desk duty because of his physical limitations; tough duty for a guy who loved being a street cop. He was off duty when he attempted to arrest the woman now suing him.
His wife found him on Monday, dead of a gunshot wound, sitting in the car in the garage of their Mendota Heights home.
Monday's trial, already delayed to accommodate Ngo's latest surgery, was postponed by Hennepin County District Judge Ronald Abrams after news of Ngo's death.
"In 23 years of doing this, this is the strangest thing I've seen," Mike Padden, one of the attorneys representing the woman, told the Pioneer Press. "Everybody was just totally freaked out."
Read more about our coverage of the Ngo case:
Here's a video animation of the events surrounding Ngo's 2003 shooting: