The family of one of the people shot and killed by police on Highway 212 last week has hired a lawyer to learn more about why officers pulled the trigger, but law enforcement is pointing to the 21-foot rule.
The investigation is still ongoing, but depending on which experts you talk to, some already say they see the shooting that followed a high-speed chase as justified because of a guideline that police officers are trained to use when assessing a threat.
Joe Dutton, a retired Golden Valley police officer and use of force expert, told Fox 9 News studies have proven that when faced with a suspect who is making threats with a knife, an officer won't have the time to get their gun from a hip-holster and shoot if that suspect is within 21 feet.
While Dutton has nothing to do with the case, he knows many questions must be answered when it comes to how the chase on Highway 212 ended. Even so, Dutton said the reports that 36-year-old Matthew Serbus ignored repeated commands to drop the knife stand out to him because -- even with guns already drawn -- Dutton believes 21 feet is still a dangerous distance.
"You can cover this distance much more quickly than you perceive," he said. "Also, when people are hit with firearms, they don't always immediately go straight to the ground."
Yet, the preliminary information released by police puts a piece of the puzzle together for Dutton, it also prompted the family of 34-year-old Dawn Pfister to hire an attorney to fill in the remaining blanks.
"I think as important as what they say is what they don't say," attorney Bob Bennett told Fox 9 News.
Bennett is now representing Pfister's family, and he is determined to find out why she was also shot and killed and is pointing to information from investigators that claims she "took possession of the knife" after Serbus went down.
"Notably, it did not say these things: that she threatened him; that she attacked them; that she menaced them with the knife," Bennett said. "They use the words, 'took possession.' We don't know what that means. We can't see that from the video."
At this point, the investigation is far from complete. Those looking at it from the outside in are anxious to learn more.
"When you have four officers shooting, my personal opinion is they all saw the threat the same," Dutton contends.
Meanwhile, those directly involved say tell Fox 9 News they are determined to find the truth and prove it.
"She's not Bonnie Parker to his Clyde Barrow," Bennett said. "He's the criminal; she's the hostage, and it's always a bad thing to shoot the hostage."
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