Man killed by St. Paul police had threatened to commit suicide

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Marcus Golden's bedroom
St. Paul police photographed Marcus Golden's bedroom, which has several items remembering his brother, Scott Golden Jr., who committed suicide.
St. Paul Police Department
Marcus Golden on a family vacation
Marcus Golden on a family vacation in Orlando for the New Year.
Courtesy Golden familiy

The 24-year-old man shot and killed by St. Paul police officers in January was depressed and agitated by the suicide of his brother and had threatened to commit suicide, according to police interviews with his family following the shooting.

Police shot Marcus Golden early Jan. 14 outside a St. Paul apartment building, after investigators say he drove his vehicle towards an officer at high speed. Golden had been using his cell phone to send threatening messages to an ex-girlfriend who lived in the apartment building throughout the prior evening and morning, police said.

Although the shooting took place in a parking lot on the 200 block of University Avenue East, four police officers were the only witnesses. A surveillance camera across the street captured nothing, and the officers involved told investigators they did not have time to activate the dashboard cameras in their squad car.

Documents released by the St. Paul Police Department provide new details into the events that led up to Golden's death and confirm the police department's earlier accounts of the shooting.

Based on the department's investigation, a grand jury concluded in May that Officers Jeremy Doverspike and Dan Peck were justified in shooting Golden and declined to file charges against them.

Officers at the scene told investigators they estimated the entire incident lasted less than a minute, ending in a flurry of gunfire.

Peck told investigators that he approached Golden's green GMC Jimmy in the parking lot shortly after 2 a.m. and ordered Golden to show his hands. Both officers said Golden raised his left hand while his right hand appeared to be moving towards the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Peck said he had been speaking to Golden for about 20 seconds when he saw the truck's brake lights turn on. The officer told investigators he then yelled for Golden to put the vehicle in park. Instead, Peck said, Golden put the vehicle in gear and pressed down on the accelerator.

Officer Scott Sandell and another officer who approached the scene reported hearing tires squealing and said they saw the truck Golden was driving "hauling ass," almost clipping Doverspike.

"Officer Doverspike says all he can think is 'Oh [expletive].' The next thing he knows, the driver's car hits his gun and he fires two rounds," investigator Bobby Donahue wrote.

The site of an officer-involved shooting
A vehicle is photographed at the site of the shooting that killed Marcus Golden 200 block of St. Paul's University Avenue East on Jan. 14.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

Peck told investigators he thought the gunfire was coming from inside the car.

"He heard a muffled 'pop' and believed that Golden was shooting," investigator Patrick Cheshier wrote after interviewing Peck.

Peck fired several times at the driver's window.

Golden's SUV hit a fire hydrant and smashed into a number of vehicles in the parking lot.

The wheels on Golden's truck were spinning at full speed as Sandell and another officer approached the scene where it finally landed. Sandell said it appeared that his foot was mashed against the accelerator.

The officers told investigators they were not sure if Golden was still a threat. They extracted him from the driver's seat and handcuffed him.

Golden had recently bought two guns. He had one of them in the car with him on the night he was shot, but there's no indication he used it. Police discovered it buried in the trash on the floor of his SUV.

Officer Robert Lokhorst, who arrived following the shooting, said Golden had a gunshot wound to his head and was bleeding profusely.

"The male was breathing, but his breaths were very labored and it sounded like there was liquid pooling in his airway," Lokhorst said. "I used a jaw thrust to open the male's mouth and clear his airway, at which time a large amount of blood drained from his mouth onto the ground and he began breathing more normally."

Medics arrived on the scene but were unable to revive Golden.

Golden's family was more aware of his erratic behavior than they publicly disclosed.

In an interview with MPR News shortly after the shooting, Golden's aunt, Monique Cullars-Doty, said he was in high spirits during a family vacation to Orlando just weeks before. She said then that she couldn't speak to his mental state beyond that.

But at the same time she was telling that to reporters, Cullars-Doty told investigators to tell the officers involved Golden had been depressed and suicidal. She said he had been abusing alcohol and told relatives he was thinking about seeking treatment.

Cullars-Doty later told police that she thought the shooting may have been "suicide by cop" when she first heard about his death, but subsequently backed away from that statement.

Golden had been distraught over his brother's suicide, Cullars-Doty said. Not long before he was killed, she said, Golden told her, "I'm sorry you're going to lose another nephew."

Golden's mother, Ericka Cullars-Golden, told the police officers who notified her of his death that he was "agitated" at the entire world around that time, according to the report. She confirmed to police that he had received psychiatric treatment at Regions Hospital.

Another officer present when Cullars-Golden was notified of her son's death, Officer Jody Larsen, said she told police that Marcus Golden "did not like police" and had said in the past that he wanted to kill a cop.

Golden had a history of threatening behavior and violence against Emily Elton, his former girlfriend. She told police that he had beaten her, threatened her and hit her with a handgun in the past. She and a friend both separately told police that Golden had once kidnapped her and bound her ankles and wrists with tape.

After that incident, she said a law enforcement officer in Princeton, Minn., told her "if it comes down to it, kill him before he kills you."

Ashwin Madia, an attorney representing Golden's family said in a statement that his relatives are studying the police report.

"They will make decisions regarding next steps after they have had a chance to process all the information," Madia wrote.