For Eric Fischer, not knowing hurts the most.
Since his son was critically wounded in a police shooting at Minneapolis City Hall last week, Fischer says he’s been allowed little contact with Marcus Fischer, 18, who is still recovering from self-inflicted stab wounds and police bullets.
Hospital officials have not disclosed details about his son’s condition, he said. What little information he’s been able to pry out of authorities has left him feeling empty. He learned from a psychiatrist who interviewed Marcus that he was up and walking around. He said he could only wonder what must have been going through Marcus’ mind. Police say the younger Fischer brought a knife into an interview room and stabbed himself repeatedly, after being left unattended.
“I didn’t raise my son to be like this, so I don’t really have a comment on what his mental state was,” he said.
Eric Fischer brought his pain to court on Friday and Tuesday to watch what should have been Marcus’ first appearance on charges that he robbed and shot a man during a gun deal gone awry in northeast Minneapolis earlier this year. But both times the hearing was pushed back a day, because he wasn’t yet well enough to leave the hospital. No one told Fischer. On Wednesday, Hennepin County prosecutors announced that Marcus Fischer’s court date was again rescheduled to Jan. 3.
Eric Fischer said he did not learn of the shooting until late Monday morning when his daughter called him at work, after seeing a post about Marcus on social media.
On his first visit to Marcus’ room at Hennepin County Medical Center last Saturday, Eric said he was kept from approaching Marcus’ bed by a sheriff’s deputy who stayed in the room the whole time. Another three deputies were stationed outside the door, he said.
“They wanted to make sure I didn’t share any information about the case; they wanted to make sure I didn’t touch my son,” Eric Fischer said. “I just wanted to give him a hug and kiss on the forehead, to make sure he knows that I’m here for him.”
His son had just emerged from surgery to repair a deep gash to his throat, Eric Fischer said, and wasn’t able to speak. Fischer said he can now see his son during regular inmate visiting hours on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The sheriff’s office said it is following procedure with limited visits.
“If somebody’s in our custody and they are being treated at HCMC, our policy doesn’t allow for visitors except for under special circumstances,” said spokesman Jon Collins. But, he said, exceptions are made occasionally, “if we believe that it’s in the best interests of the inmate’s health and wellness.”
“These policies are in place for both inmates’ safety and security, as well as the safety and security of our deputies, as well as the general public,” Collins said.
The hospital has stated that per policy it can’t release information about a patient in police custody.
On Tuesday, Eric Fischer and a group of supporters marched, first to County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office and then the Sheriff’s Office headquarters at City Hall, to demand that the family be allowed to visit Marcus without supervision in the hospital. A supporter has started an online fundraiser for Marcus Fischer’s hospital expenses at gofundme.com/marcus-fischer-medical-fund.
Mary Moriarty, the county’s chief public defender, said that her office had been assigned to Marcus’ criminal case — in which he faces charges of first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and possession of a handgun by a prohibited person.
She clarified that a public defender would be representing Marcus only in his criminal case, and not in any civil action that springs from the City Hall shooting.
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 the case detectives got up to get him some water. When they returned, sources say Fischer was cutting himself with a large folding knife that he brought into the room in his waistband and tried to slash his own throat. Officers tried to negotiate with Marcus, unsuccessfully using a Taser to subdue him, the sources said, then opened fire when he ignored orders to put the weapon down and started moving toward the door.
The two officers who fired their guns — Sgt. Gene Suker and officer Jerome Carey — are on routine paid leave pending the outcome of a state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation into the incident. So is officer David Martinson, who deployed the Taser. Officials said that metal-detecting wands will now be placed in every interview room at headquarters and at each of the five police precincts.