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Black leaders decry ruling in fatal shooting by St. Paul police

ST. PAUL -- The St. Paul NAACP president said Thursday that he's "deeply disappointed" a grand jury did not indict two police officers in the fatal shooting of Marcus Golden. But the head of the St. Paul police union said some in the community ha...


ST. PAUL -- The St. Paul NAACP president said Thursday that he’s “deeply disappointed” a grand jury did not indict two police officers in the fatal shooting of Marcus Golden.

But the head of the St. Paul police union said some in the community had rushed to judgment “with little or no evidence.”

Their reactions came after the grand jury’s decision Wednesday that the officers were justified in their actions Jan. 14.


Police have said they were responding to a 911 call about a man who reported receiving death threats and that the suspect was outside with a gun. Officers found Golden in a car in an apartment building parking lot at 261 E. University Ave., near Regions Hospital.

As Officer Jeremy Doverspike approached on foot, Golden accelerated toward him, nearly striking him, police have said. Doverspike and officer Dan Peck both fired, killing Golden. Police have said a loaded gun was found within Golden’s reach in the vehicle.

Jeff Martin, local NAACP president, said in a statement Thursday that the group is “committed to continue our fight against racial profiling, police brutality, and the militarization of local authorities.

“The death of Marcus Golden by the hands of the St. Paul Police Department is a distressing symptom of the untested and overaggressive policing culture that has become commonplace in communities of color all across the country,” Martin continued.

But Pete Orput, the Washington County attorney who presented the case to a grand jury, said the case “has nothing to do with race.”

“This has nothing to do with an innocent man, if you will,” he said. “This is a guy who chose to put an officer’s life in jeopardy and he was almost successful at doing it, at killing that cop. And that’s the extent of this case.”

Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president, said three investigative agencies reviewed the case before it was presented to a grand jury, and the investigation resulted in almost 1,000 pages of reports.

“However, all too often these days - and this was certainly the case here - some in our community rush to judgment regarding the actions of law enforcement with little or no evidence to support their position,” Titus said in a statement. “It is regrettable that there are those among us who would rather sow dissent than ascertain the facts before passing judgment.”


Orput said he invites the public to read the police reports in the Golden case. “I think any reasonable person would draw the obvious conclusions,” he said.

Golden’s mother’s attorney, J. Ashwin Madia, said Thursday that he has requested but not received police reports about the investigation.

“(Ericka) Cullars-Golden’s information thus far regarding the death of her son has come from media reports,” Madia said. “We’d like to review the investigation so that we can make an informed decision on how to proceed.”

Madia sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice in March to ask for a civil rights inquiry. He said Thursday he hasn’t received a response.

Meanwhile, Martin said in his statement that “(the) grand jury’s decision does not mean a crime was not committed in St. Paul, Minn., nor does it mean we are done fighting for Marcus Golden.”

Titus said St. Paul police officers “endeavor to stand with the people of this great city, while protecting and serving the public in a professional and ethical manner. We believe that they accomplish this goal the vast majority of the time.”

The police department will conduct an internal affairs investigation into the Golden case, which is routine, a police spokesman said.

Orput said he could tell the incident was traumatic for the officers involved.


“When I asked the cops to recount what happened, it’s obvious that this has caused them both some real stress and emotional problems,” he said Thursday. “Both because they had to resort to using deadly force, and I would say they were very upset they were put into that position because nobody wants to do that.”

In the United States last year, 133 officers died in the line of duty and 10 were vehicular assaults, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page online site.

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