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Body recovered from Mississippi River ID’d as University employee

Tibetan community members expressed concern with police handling of the case.

A man found dead in the Mississippi River Saturday has been identified as Rinzin Dorjee according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office. 

Dorjee, 55 — a University employee — was reported missing by a coworker late Thursday night, according to a campus-wide public safety alert.  

On Friday, about 80 people gathered at the University of Minnesota Police Department to request updates and more information on the case, said activist Jigme Ugen.

The gathering took place after members of the Tibetan community found Dorjee’s wallet and shoes during a search of their own; community members wondered why police had not been searching more extensively, he said.  

“The community asked police to help search the river. The police did a little bit of search, but the community ended up doing most of the search. The police were gone,” Ugen said. “They said they were difficult to arrange and that the boat has to come from the sheriff and all of these complications.”

During the gathering Friday, UMPD Chief Matt Clark decided to start a search with a K-9 unit and a boat sweep at 9 p.m., Ugen said. 

“It’s a bit disheartening when the community needed to do such action to get some sort of urgency from the police,” Ugen said.

Ugen said he had tried contacting Minneapolis Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon several times but was unsuccessful. In a Facebook response to a post by Ugen, Gordon said he will review what went wrong with UMPD and the county, adding that “it appears [the county] could have and should have been sent out earlier.”

“We really exhausted a lot of resources in trying to find him during that time,” said UMPD Lieutenant Troy Buhta. “It’s a tough time for family, and they’re really trying to grasp onto something, hope for the best — as were we.” 

In an emailed statement, University spokesman Tim Busse said, “Officers followed investigative practices related to a missing person report and worked closely with the family, law enforcement partners, Mr. Dorjee’s employer, and University departments in an effort to locate Mr. Dorjee.”

According to a tweet from UMPD, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office recovered a body Saturday evening. 

Dorjee’s body was found about 100 yards south of the Short Line Bridge, but the cause of death is still under investigation, according to the medical examiner.

UMPD had found blood at Dorjee’s workplace and said he may have been injured in the safety update Friday. 

A surveillance video shows Dorjee walking toward the intersection of Fulton Street Southeast and Ontario Street Southeast, according to the email.

 “I know for sure that these figures of authority would have handled the entire situation differently if those affected weren’t people of color immigrants with English as second language,” Ugen said in a Facebook statement posted Saturday. 

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