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Officers won’t be charged for man’s death at fire checkpoint

Officers won’t be charged for man’s death at fire checkpoint

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Four officers will not face criminal charges for shooting and killing a gunman who tried to walk through a fire evacuation checkpoint near a marijuana farm of Northern California last summer, the Siskiyou County District Attorney said Tuesday.

Soobleej Kaub Hawj, 35, of Kansas City, Kansas, was driving a van loaded with firearms and 132 pounds of marijuana when he ignored orders to turn west on a main road at a checkpoint on June 24 as a fire sparked by lightning threatened a rural Big Springs area near the Oregon border, District Attorney Kirk Andrus said.

The fire forced thousands of people to flee.

Hawj, who had both amphetamines and methamphetamine in his system, pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and pointed it at a law enforcement officer, causing other officers to open the fire, Andrus said in a letter to law enforcement explaining his decision, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Hawj was hit several times in the head, chest, arms and legs. Along with the handgun and the marijuana, investigators found another handgun and two loaded assault rifles with large magazines, the letter said.

The shooting sparked accusations that racism played a role in the shooting of Hawj, who was an ethnic Hmong.

Last year, authorities said the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision in the Big Springs area had up to 6,000 greenhouses growing marijuana illegally, with the farms mostly run by people of Hmong and Chinese descent.

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The county has attempted to crack down on illegal cultivation, in part by banning water truck deliveries to Hmong farmers who carry out illegal activities.

The growers sued and last fall a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the ban, saying the practice raised “serious questions” about racial discrimination and left growers without a source of water. for drinking, bathing and growing food.

In his letter, however, Andrus said the fire checkpoint was not used to find marijuana, but simply to get people out of an area endangered by fire. Hawj, however, may have thought he would be stopped and searched, Andrus said.

“He had a commercial crop in the back of his truck that he was apparently prepared to defend,” Andrus wrote. “He may have had the misunderstanding that residents were funneled into an area where they would be wanted for marijuana. He would have been wrong.

Hawj also had a warrant in Mesa County, Colorado, where he was wanted for marijuana and firearms crimes, the newspaper said.

Officers won’t be charged for man’s death at fire checkpoint

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