SPRING VALLEY, Wis. - The family of an innocent man killed at the end of a fatal police chase early Monday is questioning a trooper's decision to pursue the suspect.
Brody Sotona was driving a vehicle that was struck at high speed by the suspect vehicle at the intersection of Central Avenue and 4th Street Southeast just before 1 a.m. Sotona was killed on impact, and his passenger, 24-year-old Connor Macklin of Stillwater, is in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The suspect, a 34-year-old man who was pulled over for speeding and suspected drunk driving, crashed his car into the side of a building after the collision. He suffered minor injuries in the incident.
Monday afternoon Sotona's family released a short statement to the media. It reads:
"Brody was a fun, loving, 20 year old who enjoyed life to the fullest. Brody had a passion for music and his band "Crush". He loved to have a good time with friends and family and will be missed tremendously by them."
Then, the statement takes a turn, directly challenging the sequence of decisions made by the Minnesota State Trooper who pursued the suspect.
"The family would like to know why the Minnesota State Trooper pursued the suspect into a high speed chase in DOWNTOWN Minneapolis at 1 o'clock in the morning when it is quite clear that they already had the suspects license plate and likely the name and address. If they would not have pushed him our Son and brother would still be alive today."
Deciding when to chase a suspect, and when to call off a chase is something that all law enforcement agencies wrestle with. Most have detailed policies drawn up to strike a balance between apprehending a suspect who may be a danger to the community, and the additional risks posed to citizens by engaging in a pursuit.
"The trooper made numerous attempts to try to end this safely, despite the obvious intention of the suspect of not doing what would make sense and the safe thing for everyone and just stopping," said State Patrol Spokesman Eric Roeske during a media briefing.
"You have a suspected drunk driver. Drunk drivers kill over a hundred people a year. Do you just let him go?" Roeske continued. "Do you try to stop him? Obviously, in hindsight, you can come up with a lot of answers but in the very short window, that this trooper's trying to evaluate that, it's a little more difficult when you're in the driver's seat."
The trooper involved in the chase is on paid leave, standard policy for the State Patrol when someone is involved in a "critical incident" where someone is killed. Investigators will be looking at how things unfolded.
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )