Ahead of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I traveled to Minnesota to connect with community members across the Twin Cities who shared how the region has changed.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — In 2015, 24-year-old Marcus Golden was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of an apartment building. Police maintain that Golden put the responding officers in a compromising position that required the use of lethal force, but Golden’s family believes the story of his death doesn’t add up. One year removed from George Floyd’s murder in nearby Minneapolis, Golden’s aunt and local Black Lives Matter leader, Monique Cullars-Doty, says the coverup officers tried in Floyd’s death feels reminiscent of the same thing that happened to her nephew over half a decade ago.
“There was no actual video tape of the incident that we're aware of,” Cullars-Doty told Yahoo News in a sitdown interview in the East University Avenue apartment building parking lot that her nephew was killed. “And so if you look up Marcus Golden, pretty much everything you're going to find has been manipulated or just complete lies by the St. Paul Police Department.”
The details surrounding Golden’s death remain unclear.
On Jan. 14, 2015, police were called to the apartment building of Golden’s ex-girlfriend, where Golden had allegedly been making threats through text messages. Upon arriving at the scene, two officers observed Golden in his car and then varying accounts began to differ.
Golden’s aunt, Cullars-Doty, says that an eye-witness claimed that one officer slipped on snow and ice on the ground at the scene and his gun went off and the second officer shot at Golden, thinking a shootout was ensuing. St. Paul police, however, claim that they shot at Golden after he drove his car at them at a high speed.
Golden was shot in the back of the head and arm by police, but was never taken to the hospital, despite the Trauma Center at Regions Hospital sitting just a few hundred yards away. Four months after the shooting, a grand jury declined to charge the officers, saying the shooting was justified.
The St. Paul Police Department believe that they did everything they could to save Golden’s life and say if he made a different decision that night then he “may still be here today.”
“Every loss of life is a tragedy, and we understand the families’ anguish over the death of their loved ones,” St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders told Yahoo News in an email.
“Mr. Golden’s case is no less tragic. The thorough investigation showed that he recklessly placed officers’ lives in danger by driving at them. It also demonstrates that officers do not choose these situations; the situations choose them. We respect the grand jury's decision in this case and continue to keep everyone whose life was changed by this incident—Mr. Golden’s loved ones, our officers and their families—in our prayers.”
Immediately following the shooting, no gun was recovered at the scene, according to initial police reports obtained by Yahoo News. But almost 12 hours later, police said they had discovered a gun that was legally registered to Golden. Cullars-Doty alleges foul play on behalf of the police.
“The police got a search warrant for my parents’ house where Marcus had been staying and also for Marcus's vehicle, but they didn't search Marcus's vehicle until after they left my parents' house because they retrieved a gun that Marcus legally owned,” Cullars-Doty said, adding that police built a false narrative for Golden in an attempt to damage his character to the public.
“[Police] really worked hard to try and bury Marcus in lies, but we buried him in love and we continue to stand up for him and to tell his truth,” she added.
The murder of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis has reignited Cullars-Doty’s pursuit for justice.
In January, Cullars-Doty, along with Golden’s mother and grandmother, filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Paul Police Department before the statute of limitations was set to expire. The lawsuit alleges that officers Jeremy Doverspike and Dan Peck used excessive force in violation of Golden's constitutional rights.
“George Floyd wraps into everyone just as Marcus wraps into everyone before him because it was these people that died before [Floyd], that Black Lives Matter had been created for,” Cullars-Doty said.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary, Collars-Doty believes that Floyd’s death has shown the world the ugly truth about police brutality.
“George Floyd has energized the entire world and the country,” she said. “He’s caused people to move who would not move and pushed people who said, ‘I don't get it’ all of a sudden began to get it. But it also still showed us that there's a lot of ignorant people still in the world.”
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.