A Goodhue County sheriff’s investigator did not have a Taser or other non-lethal options when he shot a Red Wing man who attacked him on Nov. 22.
Fernando Javier Carbajal, 24, faces felony and misdemeanor charges in the attack on sheriff’s investigator Steve Sutton-Brown. Those charges include:
Felony third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm, which carries up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Felony fourth-degree assault on a peace officer causing bodily harm, which carries up to three years in prison and a $6,000 fine.
Gross misdemeanor fourth degree physical assault on a peace officer, which carries up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Carbajal has not entered a plea in the case. He is represented by attorney Joseph G. Vaccaro of St. Paul. Carbajal was released Monday, Nov. 28, after posting $10,000 bail. He is next scheduled in court on Dec. 21.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension stated Sutton-Brown fired his department handgun during the incident. He has been a law enforcement officer for 19½ years. He is on standard administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation into his use of force in the incident.
According to a report from the bureau, Carbajal was shot in the altercation. The report stated just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22, witnesses called 911 to report a vehicle crashed into a telephone pole near Bay Point Park.
The driver left the vehicle and was walking away from the crash near Bay Point Park in Red Wing along Levee Road. Sutton-Brown was taking part in training nearby and arrived on the scene first. He was not wearing his standard uniform but had on a sweatshirt that identified him as a member of the sheriff’s office. His unmarked car had its emergency lights turned on.
Witnesses say the man later identified as Carbajal charged the deputy as he approached and attacked the officer. Because Sutton-Brown had come from training, he did not have his normal array of tools, including less-lethal options like aerosol, a baton or a Taser.
At one point during the altercation Sutton-Brown fell and injured his foot. He discharged his firearm three times. Carbajal, who was described as being much larger than the officer, was unarmed.
In a complaint filed in court by Red Wing police investigator Tom Rikli, it stated Sutton-Brown was taken to a hospital where his injury was diagnosed as a broken foot as a result of the assault.
The complaint states that Sutton-Brown radioed that the suspect was suicidal.
“The officer’s voice was clearly in distress while providing radio updates,” the complaint states. “A short time later Goodhue County Sheriff’s Dispatch advised ‘shots fired!’”
Assistant Red Wing Police Chief Travis Bray was one of the first officers on the scene. He recognized Carbajal, according to the complaint.
The suspect, according to the complaint, told Bray, “I am sorry, Bray. I didn’t want you to see me this way.”
Carbajal told Bray he was going 90 mph when he drove into a pole. The suspect said he was fine and walked away from the crash uninjured.
“I did some real bad stuff, stuff that my family would not be proud of,” Bray reported Carbajal told him. “I really messed up.”
Two women walking in Bay Point Park told investigators they had witnessed the incident. They saw a man walk away from the crashed SUV.
“She initially thought that the driver was attempting to leave the scene of an accident,” the complaint reads.
The women reported seeing the male “start screaming at the officer while he was still seated inside the unmarked squad car.” She described the man being “aggressive” and looked to her like the man was “trying to challenge the officer to a physical fight.”
After the officer got out of the car, the man started chasing the officer.
“She estimated that the male (Carbajal) chased the officer for at least 60 seconds and described the male as being four times larger than the officer,” according to the complaint.
The other witness said the suspect was “approximately 12 inches taller” than the officer. In the complaint, Carbajal is listed as 6 feet tall and 435 pounds on his Minnesota driver’s license.
“She added that there was a physical altercation between the two men and that she believed that the larger male (Carbajal) grabbed the officer a couple times,” the complaint stated. “She described them as standing very close to one another.”
She told the investigating officer, “That guy was going to get that police officer. He was after him at that point. It was scary. He seemed so much bigger.”
The officer reportedly fired “two or three shots” from his hand gun.
“The male initially fell to the ground after one of the shots but got back up and continued to chase the officer,” the complaint states. The officer fired another shot.
After being shot, Carbajal was transported to Mayo Clinic-Red Wing, then Mayo Clinic-Rochester where he was treated and released into the custody of the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office the following day, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Neither the complaint nor the report from the bureau described the gunshot wounds Carbajal sustained.
Sutton-Brown was treated for his injury at Mayo Clinic-Red Wing.
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime scene personnel recovered three bullet casings at the scene. There is no video showing the shooting. A witness took video of the altercation prior to the shooting but stopped recording before Sutton-Brown shot Carbajal.
The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office requested that the state bureau investigate the incident. Once the investigation is complete, the bureau will present its findings without recommendation to the Goodhue County Attorney’s Office for review on the officer’s use of force.