BCA completes inquiry of police role in Woodbury shooting

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2012 - 9:13 PM

Grand jury likely to review agency's findings in death of unarmed hostage during Woodbury hotel standoff.

An investigation into the role of police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man during a chaotic standoff at a Woodbury hotel last summer has been completed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

Those findings have now been turned over to the Ramsey County attorney's office, which will review them and likely present them to a grand jury in Washington County.

Mark E. Henderson Jr., 19, of St. Paul, was killed by police who mistakenly believed he had a weapon as he tried to flee the Red Roof Inn in the 1800 block of Wooddale Drive on Aug. 31. Demetrius S. Ballinger, 25, of North St. Paul, had taken Henderson and a group of 11 young people hostage, according to a criminal complaint charging him with more than two dozen felonies ranging from attempted second-degree murder to sexual assault. Ballinger also shot at Henderson, charges say.

Ballinger is being held in Washington County jail on $1 million bail and is awaiting trial.

The BCA was part of two investigations into the four-hour standoff that began about 1 a.m. that morning, BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said. The agency assisted Woodbury police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office in the overall investigation that led to the charges against Ballinger. The BCA also was asked by Washington County to lead the investigation into the shooting by the police officers. Such investigations are standard procedure in this type of case, although the BCA doesn't always take charge of the investigation.

A grand jury review of shootings involving police officers also is a standard procedure.

The three Woodbury police officers are not expected to be called as witnesses at Ballinger's trial, said Fred Fink, the assistant Washington County attorney in charge of criminal prosecution. But as far as reviewing the shooting, "we wanted to avoid even the appearance of there being a conflict," he said.

It's not likely a grand jury would review the shooting until early next year, he said.

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson

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