To hear Monique Cullars-Doty tell the story about happened over a 12-hour period in mid-January, her late nephew Marcus Golden was twice victimized. First, by violence. Second, via cover up.
The 24-year-old Golden was shot and killed by St. Paul police in an apartment parking lot in the early morning hours of January 14. Police say he failed to heed officers' orders, then hit the accelerator of his Chevy SUV, attempting to run over Jeremy Doverspike, a seven-year veteran of the force.
"From the very beginning," Cullars-Doty says, "when I first heard about what happened, it didn't make any sense."
She doesn't dispute what led Golden to the parking lot on the 200 block of University Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. He and an ex-girlfriend's former boyfriend were texting threatening smack to each another. Unlike the police account that said Golden was the vehicular aggressor, Cullars-Doty thinks he was just a scared young man.
"Marcus was in a secluded area with police officers. He's a young black man. I think he was scared and was trying to leave," she says. "I don't know if the officers acted in a panic to that or what."
A short time after Golden was killed, St. Paul police called local NAACP President Jeff Martin to inform him about the incident, according to Cullars-Doty.
"Jeff is a family friend," she says, "and I know Jeff asked them, 'Was [Marcus] armed?' At that time they said they didn't know. I think once they figured out they had killed someone who's known [personally] to Jeff Martin, they realized 'we have a bit of a situation on our hands.'"
It wasn't until 1 p.m. that police announced that they had recovered a gun at the scene. It would subsequently be reported that the firearm had been found inside the vehicle, "within immediate reach" of Golden.
Cullars-Doty thinks she can explain the tardiness of the detail.
"[Police] came to my parents' later that morning with a search warrant," she says. "I wasn't allowed to watch them search his room. That's where I think they found the gun, a gun he had legally purchased, I might add. So now they have their gun."
The last years of Golden's young life were a crash course in bad choices made.
Court records show he had a 2012 conviction for carrying a loaded handgun. In 2013 he was convicted of driving with a suspended license.
Last November, a former girlfriend's father took out a restraining order against him. Golden allegedly vandalized the family's apartment on various occasions and repeatedly threatened the daughter.
Cullars-Doty counters: "All that information that has come out is a smear campaign. Marcus didn't have a serious record. He didn't rob or steal."
In the immediate aftermath of Golden's death, the St. Paul NAACP called for an independent investigation. Washington County officials investigated to avoid any conflict of interest in Ramsey County, where the shooting took place. A grand jury in May cleared Doverspike and Peck of any criminal wrongdoing.
County Attorney Pete Orput handled the case.
“It’s pretty clear that these officers were very justified in what they did,” he told the Pioneer Press. “Mr. Golden came dangerously close to killing one of those officers.”
The family continues to ponder its legal options, according to Cullars-Doty.
"What happened to Marcus is another example of what's happening all over the country," she says.
St. Paul Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos stands behind the department's investigation, calling its handling of the Golden case "transparent and up front."
"The tragedy here is a young man lost his life," Paulos says. "People grieve in different ways. Sometimes grief can be looking for blame."
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