Marcus Golden had a loaded handgun within his reach as he hit the gas of his SUV and sped toward a St. Paul police officer early Wednesday morning.
Two officers, who say they feared for their lives, opened fire, striking Golden several times and killing him.
That account, provided by police Thursday, offered some of the first details of what allegedly played out in the seconds before Golden’s death.
Golden, 24, of St. Paul, was shot shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the Valley Hi-Rise apartments in the 200 block of University Avenue E.
Police had been called on a report of a man sending death threats via text message and were told that the suspect was known to carry a gun. Officers drove behind the apartment building and found Golden’s SUV parked in a dark and “very secluded” area. The squad stopped, facing the SUV, and officers started a “dialogue” with Golden, said St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos, at a news conference Thursday night.
The two uniformed officers exited their squad and ordered Golden to step out of his vehicle. He refused, Paulos said. The officers ordered Golden to shut off his car. He still refused.
That’s when Golden accelerated at a high speed toward officer Jeremy Doverspike, nearly striking him, Paulos said. The officers fired at Golden, whose SUV crashed into parked vehicles. Medics rendered aid to Golden, but he died at the scene.
Paulos said authorities are investigating whether, during the incident, Golden drew the handgun found inside his SUV.
The two officers involved in the shooting were identified Thursday as Dan Peck, who has worked for the department for nearly two years, and Doverspike, a seven-year veteran. They are both on standard three-day leave.
The fatal shooting of Golden, who is black, has led local black leaders, with the support of Golden’s family, to call for an independent investigation into his death.
“I’m grieving. This is a total shock to me,” said Ericka Cullars-Golden, Golden’s mother, on Thursday.
In a Wednesday news conference, St. Paul NAACP President Jeff Martin requested a “complete investigation” by a source not affiliated with the city of St. Paul or the state of Minnesota. Martin said an internal review by the city’s police-civilian review board would not be truly independent because it is made up of city police officers and residents who advise the chief.
He noted the importance of a transparent process especially in light of recent police-involved killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, a University of St. Thomas law professor who has helped train St. Paul police on race issues, agrees that an investigation through a third-party should be conducted.
“I think we should approach officer-involved shootings with a high level of scrutiny,” she said Thursday.
Levy-Pounds was charged this week for her alleged involvement in a December protest against police brutality at the Mall of America.
“It definitely hit home in terms of why we protest,” she said of Golden’s death.
Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union, said he agreed that an independent investigation would bolster confidence in law enforcement.
“There is a crisis of confidence between people of color and police all over the country,” Samuelson said. “We need to restore the relationship between the people and the police.”
While Cullars-Golden wouldn’t discuss the ongoing police investigation, she said Thursday that Golden was a “loving son” and “hard worker” who had a lot friends and liked video games and sports.
Golden and his family had been grieving the death of Golden’s oldest brother, who committed suicide about five months ago. Pastor Earl Miller said he had ministered to Golden and his mother during that difficult time.
“It was a very, very hard time for him and his entire family. … It takes its toll,” Miller said.
Golden had a history of troubling and threatening behavior, according to court records. In 2012, he was convicted in Ramsey County of transporting a loaded firearm during a dispute involving an ex-girlfriend. Last November, a St. Paul man, who is the father of a different ex-girlfriend, filed a restraining order against him alleging that Golden broke windows at his apartment.
On Nov. 26, police arrested Golden after he allegedly parked his vehicle outside the man’s home and played loud music for 45 minutes, according to police reports. While being transported to jail, Golden allegedly told the officers, “… I guarantee I’ll knock you [expletive] out. Lord will be my witness, you devils will burn in [expletive] hell.”
Cullars-Golden, who has been a member of the St. Paul police reserves for 20 years, said she still believes in the men and women who wear blue — her youngest child is even studying to be a police officer.
“I do have faith in the St. Paul Police Department.”