Man killed by police described as 'beautiful,' and threatening

Marcus Golden and his aunt in Orlando
Marcus Golden and his aunt Monique Cullars-Doty in Orlando, Fla., on a family vacation to celebrate the New Year.
Courtesy Golden familiy

Updated: 6 p.m. | Posted: 5:35 a.m.

When St. Paul police shot and killed a man Wednesday morning, one of their colleagues lost a child. Marcus Golden's mother works for the department. But her son had several times found himself on the wrong side of the law.

Marcus Golden
Marcus Golden
Courtesy Ramsey County

Details about Marcus Ryan Golden are hard to come by. The 24-year-old had no social media accounts that can clearly be linked to his name. Google searches turn up virtually nothing.

But he did have a criminal record. Golden had three misdemeanor convictions for illegally transporting a loaded gun, failing to produce a driver's license and driving with a suspended license.

In a brief phone interview, his mother, Ericka Cullars-Golden, said her son had graduated from Central High School in St. Paul and had gone on to study carpentry, though he never worked in the construction trades and wasn't employed at the time he was shot. She called him a "beautiful son."

Marcus Golden at his graduation
Marcus Golden at his graduation from Summit Academy OIC in Minneapolis in 2010.
Courtesy Golden familiy

"He was a good boy," she said. "He was a good child. He was nice, and he was caring. That's all I can say right now."

Cullars-Golden didn't talk about her own ties to the St. Paul Police Department, where she has long worked as a civilian reserve officer. Nor did she discuss the circumstances surrounding her son's death early Wednesday.

Golden's aunt, Monique Cullars-Doty, said her nephew came with her family on a trip to Orlando recently, where they visited the Citrus Bowl and amusement parks. "We had a great time, laughing, joking, going on rides, going to dinner," she said. "Those are really going to be my final memories of him and they are wonderful."

St. Paul police on Thursday confirmed Marcus Golden's identity as the man shot and killed.

A statement from Police Chief Tom Smith said that "preliminary information indicates that the suspect drove his vehicle" at two police officers during a confrontation. Shots were fired. The officers weren't injured, but the suspect — named in police audio of the incident as Marcus Golden — was pronounced dead at the scene.

The officers, who haven't been identified, were responding to a report of a man sending threatening text messages.

An MPR analysis of state law enforcement data shows police in St. Paul have used fatal deadly force more often than other departments across the state since 2008.

Reports from the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension show there have been at least 61 fatal shootings by police in Minnesota in that time and 11 have been in St. Paul.

Mike Elton has a restraining order against Golden.
St. Paul resident Mike Elton, 59, took out a restraining order against Marcus Golden after he claims Golden repeatedly threw bricks through the windows of his apartment. Elton says his daughter Emily dated Golden for several months last summer. After they broke up, he says Golden began to make ''terroristic threats'' against him.
Curtis Gilbert / MPR News

Six of those killed in St. Paul were black men, according to state and local information. That compares to two white men, two Asian men and one man whose race wasn't identified shot and killed by St. Paul police in that same period.

Mike Elton, whose daughter Emily once dated Golden, said the young man had a history of threatening behavior. Standing in the living room of his small St. Paul apartment, Elton said that Golden repeatedly threw bricks through his window following a breakup last year. Once he threw a large firecracker.

"He's busted that picture window out so many times," Elton said. "See this hole in the floor? He came in and opened that door one night, and threw a — something, had to be bigger than an M-80 — in here."

Once, Elton said, he chased Golden down the block, but didn't catch him. In November, Elton took out a restraining order against Golden. That ended the attacks, he said — though his daughter continued to receive threats.

Official records show three police reports about the alleged incidents. The cases remain open, and no charges were filed.

NAACP press conference
Jeffry Martin, NAACP St. Paul branch president, talks to the media about a fatal shooting Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

The St. Paul NAACP has called for an independent investigation into the shooting. Its president, Jeff Martin, once served as Golden's attorney.

Golden's family has been active with Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul. The church's head pastor, the Rev. Earl Miller, said he was counseling the family following the shooting.

"They're in crisis right now," he said. "We're just doing what we can do to support them right now, to show them our love, and to pray for them. We ask that the community would do the same."

Miller said he didn't know Marcus Golden well, but the man's family members — including his grandmother, aunt and uncle — were integral members of the church.

"The family's a very dedicated Christian family who've been members of our church for almost 23 years now," he said. "It's a tragedy. Not only on this occasion, but they just lost his brother months earlier."

Miller said the family lost an older son to suicide last year.

Reporter Laura Yuen contributed to this story.

Here's early audio on the incident from St. Paul Police Sgt. Paul Paulos:

And police scanner chatter from Jan. 14:

Location of shooting

Timeline: Shootings by St. Paul police since 2008 (Source: BCA)

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