Relatives and supporters of Marcus Fischer, a Minneapolis teenager who was shot by city police in an interrogation room last week, converged on the Hennepin County Attorney's Office on Tuesday to demand that his family be allowed to visit him without supervision in the hospital.
Fischer has been under guard as he recovers from multiple shots and what police say are self-inflicted stab wounds.
On Tuesday, his supporters filed into a courtroom at the Public Safety Facility, including his father, Eric Fischer, who sat in the front row, holding his head in his hands. When Judge Gina Brandt announced that his son would not be appearing for at least another day, Eric Fischer let out a muffled cry of frustration.
It was the second missed court appearance in a row after Marcus Fischer, 18, was kept from court on Friday for what a judge called "medical reasons." His current condition wasn't known on Tuesday.
Minutes after the announcement, the group, numbering several dozen, started toward County Attorney Mike Freeman's office on the 20th floor of the county Government Center. They crammed the lobby of Freeman's office and asked to speak to him.
Freeman declined to come out, but his spokesman, Chuck Laszewski, listened as they aired their grievances: that after an initial visit under police supervision, Fischer's father and sister had been barred from seeing him.
Community activist Mel Reeves and other speakers demanded to know why they were given no advance warning that Fischer's court date was being moved again.
"This office can make a request to [Hennepin County Sheriff Rich] Stanek," Reeves, an outspoken critic of police misbehavior, told Laszewski. "Exceptions can be made, and what we're asking for is an exception."
Reeves said later that authorities had agreed to allow the family visitation rights.
The case has raised concerns over how police officers deal with people who are harming themselves.
After his arrest Dec. 18 on suspicion of involvement with a robbery and shooting, Fischer was brought to police headquarters for questioning. At one point, he was left unattended in an interview room. When detectives returned, they found him cutting himself with a large folding knife that he brought into the room in his waistband, according to authorities. When he ignored orders to put the weapon down, and a Taser didn't stop him, officers shot him as he moved toward the door — even as a detective was still negotiating with Fischer, according to sources.
The two officers who fired their guns — Sgt. Gene Suker, a 20-year veteran of the department, and officer Jerome Carey, who has one year with the department — are on routine paid leave pending the outcome of a state investigation into the incident. So is officer David Martinson, an eight-year department veteran who deployed the Taser.
The entire encounter was caught on video, which police union officials say will show the officers acted justifiably when they opened fire.
The American Civil Liberties Union questioned whether police could have done more to defuse the situation.
"You would think that the police would recognize this as a mental health crisis … a situation that demands careful, nonviolent de-escalation techniques to keep everyone safe," the group said in a blog post last week.