The aunt of a man shot dead by St. Paul officers says they shouldn’t be allowed to be represented by taxpayer-funded private attorneys when the city attorney’s office typically represents employees of the city. city in pursuit.
But the city attorney’s office says adding a wrongful death claim to the federal trial is a factor in presenting a conflict of interest. They say they cannot represent the officers who fired their guns, while providing legal advice to the city and seven other officers named in the lawsuit.
St. Paul City Council members were scheduled to vote last week on appointing outside attorneys to the two officers, but postponed the matter until Wednesday.
“Why would the St. Paul City Council write two blank checks to pay an independent law firm to do the work that the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office has done for other officers?” asked Monique Cullars-Doty, Marcus Golden’s aunt. Monday. She was joined by relatives of three other people who died after encounters with St. Paul police, who also opposed the move.
The city attorney’s office said in a statement that “each (officer in the Golden trial) is entitled to his own defense of his respective actions” and that his office “cannot manage the defense of both in the event that the defense of one of them can” work to the detriment of the others. The city is required by state law to provide legal services to officers if they were working within the scope of their duties and to cover any payment resulting from a lawsuit.
The hourly rate for outside attorneys would be capped at $225 an hour, depending on the resolution that city council must vote on. The City Attorney’s Office does not have an estimate of total costs for attorneys.
GRAND JURY AUTHORIZED OFFICERS; LAWSUIT CONTESTS POLICE ACCOUNT
A grand jury cleared officers Jeremy Doverspike and Daniel Peck in the January 14, 2015 shooting of Golden, who was 24, in the parking lot of the Valley Hi-Rise apartments at 261 E. University Ave., near the hospital Regions. Police say Golden ran towards one of the officers and nearly hit him with his SUV.
Doverspike and Peck both shot Golden. A loaded handgun was found within reach of Golden in the SUV, according to police.
But the lawsuit filed by Golden’s family says he was unarmed. He says the officers arrived in a squad without activating the siren or emergency lights, and after the officers got out and started approaching Golden, he tried to drive around them and their vehicle.
One blow hit Golden in the forearm and the other entered the back of his skull; he died of gunshot wounds to one or both officers, depending on the lawsuit.
ADDING A WILLFUL DEATH REQUEST
Wrongful death claims must generally be filed within three years under Minnesota law. Golden family attorney Paul Bosman argued that they should be allowed to amend the trial to include wrongful death because of the law’s “murder exception”, which states that a claim for Wrongful death can be filed later if it was “caused by an intentional act constituting murder.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright wrote in a December order, allowing the wrongful death complaint to be added, only for officers to prove their use of lethal force was justified under state law. , “it will have to be shown that Doverspike and Peck had reasonable grounds to believe that the fugitive Golden had committed or attempted to commit a crime involving the use or threat of the use of lethal force or that he would cause death or grievous bodily harm if his arrest is delayed. The complaints do not specify what Dverspike and Peck knew at the time they shot Golden.
In a transcript of a 911 call, a man reported that he had received death threats from his ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, who he said was named Marcus and ” always has a gun.”
The city’s initial response to the lawsuit last February said the injuries or damages alleged in the lawsuit “were caused solely by reason of… the fault and/or misconduct of Golden,” and the actions of the officers.” were legally reasonable, proper, and necessary in the circumstances and permitted” by United States and state law.
The family’s lawsuit seeks at least $100,000 in damages, though Cullars-Doty said it wasn’t about the money. “I want accountability and change,” she said Monday.