Minnesota police officer, city sued by family of female hostage shot by police after car chase

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MINNEAPOLIS — The family of a woman fatally shot by police following a car chase that ended in Eden Prairie last year is suing the officer who killed her.

Dawn Pfister and Matthew Serbus were fatally shot on Highway 212 after they led police on a chase. Police say both refused officers' commands to drop a knife.

Pfister's family filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Chaska officer who shot her, accusing him of improperly using deadly force. Relatives say the 34-year-old mother of two from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, posed no threat to police and had been reported as a hostage.

"What happened is a really clear unconstitutional violation and needs to be redressed," said Minneapolis attorney Bob Bennett, who is representing the family. "This is a clearer act of police misconduct than (New York chokehold victim Eric) Garner . or any case I've been involved with in my 38 years. You don't do this. You don't fire 21 bullets to protect the hostage and then shoot the hostage."

The lawsuit against Chaska Police Sgt. Brady Juell and the city of Chaska says Juell used "unconstitutional use of deadly force," shooting Pfister four times while she was on the ground and "posed no immediate threat," the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1u18EAo ) reported.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by Philip Sieff, the trustee for Pfister's three children.

Chaska City Attorney Luke Melchert said the lawsuit would likely go directly to the city's insurer. Melchert said he had not seen the document.

In December, a Hennepin County grand jury declined to bring charged against the four officers involved in the deadly encounter in February 2014.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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