More than a hundred people turned out Monday to remember slain Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick on the fourth anniversary of his death, dedicating a memorial bearing his likeness at the city’s Market Square Park.
Patrick’s brother, the pastor of Patrick’s church and several elected officials spoke about the officer, who was shot and killed by a motorist he had stopped.
“The stone and the plaque will tell the story of that day,” Dakota County Commissioner Tom Egan said.
Patrick’s widow, Michelle, and daughters Amy and Erin got the first glimpses of the plaque, mounted on a 5-foot, 3,340-pound monument made of rose-colored granite.
The $11,000 memorial, paid for by a nonprofit memorial fund, describes Patrick’s death and proclaims him “Fallen, but not forgotten.”
The ceremony featured a bagpiper and color guard and was attended by several dozen law enforcement officers.
Mark McNeill, Mendota Heights city administrator, said it was important to create a “sense of permanent honor” for Patrick. “There’s never going to be full closure, but this, I think, was a step in the right direction,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis attended, saying he wanted to show support for police. “I think it’s high time to give the law enforcement on the line the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Patrick, a married father of two, was killed shortly after noon on July 30, 2014, after making a routine traffic stop in West St. Paul. He was 47. The motorist, Brian Fitch Sr., shot Patrick three times before fleeing. Fitch was found after an eight-hour manhunt, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The idea for the memorial stemmed from a legal settlement with Michelle Patrick. In 2015 she settled a whistleblower lawsuit her husband had filed against the city of Mendota Heights and a former police chief, alleging retaliation because he had reported two officers for stealing a table. The settlement called for Mendota Heights to form a committee to suggest ways to memorialize the slain officer.
The memorial site had been a topic of heated debate for months among West St. Paul city leaders. Committee members, including Michelle Patrick, initially wanted the memorial at Dodd Road and Smith Avenue in West St. Paul, where Patrick was killed. The spot, on land owned by the city, was being considered for future redevelopment and a memorial there would have been temporary.
In the end, the Mendota Heights City Council decided to locate the memorial at the Village at Mendota Heights, a commercial district at Hwy. 110 and Dodd Road. Michelle Patrick said it was “more fitting” to have the memorial in a central location in Mendota Heights. City Council Member Liz Petschel, who was on the memorial committee, said there remained some interest in doing something at the West St. Paul site later.
At the unveiling, several speakers noted that Patrick was a humble man who wouldn’t have understood all the fuss over his death.
“Scott’s looking down and I know what he’s saying: Neil, you’re making a big deal about this — who cares?” said Mendota Heights Mayor Neil Garlock, a former police sergeant.