Suit: Man was cuffed, helpless when fatally shot by Brooklyn Center police

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2014 - 8:56 PM

Edmond Fair’s death was “atrocious and unjustifiable,” the federal suit filed by his mother said. Police disputed the case.

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Aug. 23, 2013,: This is the scene at the west bound ramp to 694 after a fatal police officer involved shooting on Shingle Creek Pkwy in Brooklyn Center.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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The mother of a 24-year-old man killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer last summer during a late-night traffic stop has alleged in a wrongful-death lawsuit that her son was handcuffed, unarmed and defenseless when he was fatally shot in the chest.

In the suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Minneapolis by the mother of Edmond Fair, officer Ryan Soliday is accused of carrying out “the atrocious and unjustifiable killing” soon after Fair was pulled over driving a van about 2 a.m. on Aug. 23 on Shingle Creek Parkway near the entrance to Interstate 694.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling $2 million, along with reimbursement for the plaintiff’s expenses in bringing the legal action.

About a month after the shooting, the officer’s attorney said Fair, of Minneapolis, was being placed under arrest and wasn’t fully cuffed when he was shot.

Without elaborating, attorney Paul Rogosheske added that Soliday and the other officer on the scene were engaged in “a life-or-death struggle” with Fair before the shooting.

The Sheriff’s Office investigated the killing, and a grand jury chose not to have the officer charged.

On Thursday, Rogosheske said he has yet to see the suit but was no less firm in his defense of Soliday.

“He was exonerated by the grand jury,” the attorney said. “There was a donnybrook that happened, and they roll down the hill. [Fair] was fighting him.”

Since being hired by the department in January 2010, Soliday has had no disciplinary action taken against him and has received five Chief’s Certification of Commendations and a Merit of Achievement award.

The wrongful-death suit laid out the following scenario from the night of the killing:

Fair and friends were in a room at a Motel 6 in Brooklyn Center playing games. A hotel staffer knocked on the door and told them to leave because they were too loud.

Fair and the others got in his girlfriend’s van and were heading to the home of one of the people in their party. Soliday arrived at the hotel moments after Fair drove away with his friends but soon activated his emergency lights and pulled over the van, the suit said.

After Fair said he had no identification on him, Soliday directed Fair out of the vehicle and searched him. The suit said nothing suspicious was found, but

Fair was handcuffed while sitting on the curb near the van. He pleaded that he did not want to go to jail and attempted to stand. Soliday wrapped his arms around Fair’s upper body and neck, and the other officer fired Taser darts into Fair’s side. As Fair tried to take the darts out of his body, Soliday pulled Fair away from the van and “without any warning” sent the cuffed Fair to the ground with a gunshot to the chest, the suit said.

Police Chief Kevin Benner said Thursday night that he and his department “are disappointed an attorney has filed such an inaccurate version of events. ... We are confident, when the true facts are presented to the federal court, all claims will be dismissed and the plaintiff’s demand for several million dollars will be denied.”

Warrant out for Fair’s arrest

At the time of the stop, a warrant had been issued for Fair’s arrest when he missed a sentencing hearing a month earlier for his role in the 2011 kidnapping and alleged rape of a woman in Brooklyn Center. He admitted to kidnapping; the rape charge was dropped.

When officers stopped the van, Fair told them about the warrant and that he didn’t want to go back to jail, said an attorney who was representing Fair’s girlfriend in a lawsuit focused on getting back the van.

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