Mourners remember Olivia, Minn., man shot by police; vigil disrupted by pickup drivers

Ricardo Torres Jr., 32, was shot multiple times on Sunday by Olivia officer Aaron Clouse

People hold candles at a vigil.
Lupe Villarreal (right), Ricardo Torres Jr.'s aunt, and Elsa Villarreal (second from right), Torres' mother, grieve at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday in Olivia, Minn., in the alleyway where Torres was shot.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

A vigil for an Olivia man killed by police was disrupted in an apparent show of intimidation.

Around 50 people remembered Ricardo Torres Jr., 32, where he was shot, in an alley near a main street in the western Minnesota town Wednesday evening. They described him as a man who would “take the shirt off of his back” for anyone.

Relatives and friends came from Olivia and towns nearby, but others drove in from the Twin Cities about 85 miles to the east to chant his name and pray. Some family members even came from Texas where Torres was originally from.

“His smile, his laugh was infectious, his personality, he was a good man,” said Natasha Lindner, his girlfriend and mother to their infant.

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Torres died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released a preliminary report that identified the officer who fired his weapon. Aaron Clouse has been in law enforcement for 11 years and is now on standard leave.

The BCA said a shotgun was recovered near the scene. There is no known police-recorded video, and Olivia officers do not wear body cameras, according to the BCA. The county seat of Renville County has a population of around 2,500.

This brought more questions from the public on accountability and transparency about the lack of bodycam footage and whether it’s possible to rely solely on law enforcement’s account of the encounter.

Jessica Laro, Torres’ cousin, said he would never confront an officer, The Associated Press reported.

Torres’ cousin, Mikie Villarreal lives in Danube, a town about 6 miles away from Olivia. She said seeing people come from as far away as Texas to support Torres brought a little comfort.

“My cousin said that her boss told her take the time you need,” Villarreal said. “And she says I'm not leaving until we get answers, we'll see exactly what happened.”

About 10 minutes into the vigil, drivers in pickup trucks drove near the vigil, stopped and revved their engines, spewing exhaust. Others drove aggressively. Some mourners confronted the people in the trucks, and the sides yelled obscenities at each other for around 20 minutes. Police mostly stayed back, but then directed some trucks to move on.

Eventually, mourners returned to the alleyway to finish the vigil and to grieve.