Edmond Fair had a 6½-year prison sentence hanging over his head when a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot him in a struggle that broke out during a traffic stop last week.
A warrant had been issued for Fair's arrest when he missed a July 30 sentencing hearing for his role in the 2011 kidnapping and rape of a woman. When officers stopped the van he was driving about 2 a.m. Friday on Shingle Creek Parkway near the entrance to Interstate 694, he told them that there was a warrant and that he didn't want to go back to jail, said attorney Michael Padden, who is representing Fair's girlfriend in a lawsuit focused on getting back the van, which belonged to her.
Padden said all four passengers in Fair's van told him that Fair, 24, was in handcuffs when he was shot in the chest by officer Ryan Soliday.
On Wednesday, Paul Rogosheske, the officer's attorney, denied that, saying that Fair was being placed under arrest but wasn't fully cuffed when he was shot.
Without offering more details, Rogosheske said Soliday and the other officer on the scene were engaged in "a life-or-death struggle" with Fair before he was shot.
Rogosheske said that he has handled more than 100 critical incidents involving officers and that he is confident Soliday will be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by a grand jury. "I feel for the family of the victim, but this was a good shoot," he said. "The officers take no joy in all of this."
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is investigating the officer-involved shooting and has declined to comment.
Soliday was placed on paid administrative leave, standard procedure in such cases. Since being hired by the department in January 2010, he has had no disciplinary action taken against him and has received five Chief's Certification of Commendations and a Merit of Achievement award.
Witnesses saw no use of hands, arm
Padden reiterated Wednesday that all of Fair's passengers have told him that Fair was handcuffed when he was shot.
He said they told him that after the van was stopped, Fair didn't resist when Soliday handcuffed him. He was sitting on a curb and tried to stand up when Soliday grabbed him around the neck and struggled to pull him down, the passengers said, according to Padden. That's when Fair was shot.
"Edmond didn't have the use of hands and arm," he said. "This is why we have courts of law to resolve factual disputes."
Padden filed suit Wednesday on behalf of Kelia Gregory, Fair's girlfriend of four months. Fair was driving her van on Friday, and officers impounded it. Padden said the van had no connection to Fair's death and asked that it be returned.
Later Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office told him that it would be given back. "My client is elated that she will be getting her van back. We appreciate Sheriff [Rich] Stanek's assistance with helping her out in this regard," he said.
Many encounters with the law
Gregory said she had known Fair since they met in church in 2007. He was helping his mother's elderly neighbor with house repairs the day he was shot, she said.
Public records show that Fair had many brushes with the law even before he pleaded guilty to kidnapping in May.
In 2007, he was convicted of felony second-degree assault and sentenced to three years in prison.
In October 2011, Fair and another man were charged with kidnapping and raping a woman in Brooklyn Center. The case was proved with DNA samples, according to court documents.
Fair pleaded guilty to kidnapping, but the criminal sexual conduct charge was dropped. The Hennepin County attorney's office declined to comment on why it was dropped.
Before sentencing, a Hennepin County judge sent the case to Anoka County, where Fair had a probation violation. If he didn't receive prison time for the probation violation, he was supposed to return for sentencing in Hennepin County.
The plea agreement that then emerged was a five-year sentence, but the Hennepin County judge said Fair would receive a 6½-year sentence if he failed to appear for his July 30 hearing.
He did not show up. Less than a month later, he was shot and killed.