An unusual joint-county grand jury on Friday indicted Brian Fitch Sr. on murder charges in the shooting death this summer of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.
The grand jury charged Fitch, 39, of Mendota Heights with one count of first-degree murder for the intentional shooting and killing of a peace officer. He allegedly shot and killed Patrick after a traffic stop July 30 in West St. Paul, which is in Dakota County.
Fitch was charged last month in Dakota County District Court with two counts of first-degree murder. But under Minnesota law, a person can’t be tried on that charge without a grand jury indictment, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.
The grand jury also charged Fitch with illegal possession of a firearm and three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer in connection with shots he allegedly fired at St. Paul police officers trying to arrest him later that day in the city’s North End. St. Paul is in Ramsey County.
“Multicounty grand juries are very unusual. We’ve only used it once, and Ramsey County has never used it before,” Backstrom said. “It’s an unusual situation, but this is an unusual case, and I believe it’s warranted.”
The grand jury indictment sets up a single trial for Fitch in Dakota County and supersedes the previous charges against him, which now will be dismissed.
Backstrom said the jury was selected Wednesday and finished its deliberations Friday afternoon.
While Backstrom’s office will be in charge of the case, the prosecution will be led by both Dakota County Attorney Chief Deputy Phil Prokopowicz and Rick Dusterhoft, criminal division director in the Ramsey County attorney’s office.
According to the criminal complaint, Fitch shot Patrick as the officer walked up to his car during what looked to be a routine traffic stop. He then ditched his car at a nearby house, picked up an SUV and was spotted several hours later in St. Paul.
Police chased Fitch until he stopped and began firing at them, sparking the shootout. Police used an armored vehicle to arrest him.
A bandaged Fitch appeared in court several weeks later, when Dakota County District Judge Mary Theisen set bail at $3 million.
Fitch, who is recovering from eight gunshot wounds he received in the standoff with police, will make his first court appearance on the new charges when he is able, Backstrom said. He is being held on parole violations at the state prison in Oak Park Heights, which has a medical facility.