For reasons that remain puzzling, authorities investigating the shooting death of Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker have never apologized to Ryan Larson, the man they identified as an initial suspect in the case.
There never was any substantial evidence against Larson, but that didn’t stop police from naming him in a quick news conference after the shooting, nor stop news organizations from tossing aside the policy of not naming suspects until they’re actually charged with a crime.
All evidence, instead, pointed to Eric Joseph Thomes, who killed himself when police closed in on him.
“There is no known connection between Mr. Thomes and Mr. Larson related to this crime,” a press release from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said at the time. It stopped well short of the apology Larson was due.
Now, Larson is suing WCCO for two tweets, the Star Tribune reports.
According to the lawsuit, reporter Chris Simon tweeted on Nov. 30: “Chief Phil Jones of Cold Spring PD salutes slain officer Tom Decker Shot by welfare suspect Ryan Larson.” A second tweet stated: “The BCAs Drew Evans confirms officer Decker was ‘ambushed’ when shot twice and killed by Ryan Larson.”
The lawsuit says the statements in the tweets were false, misrepresented statements by law enforcement officials and were defamatory. He also says he was implicated and defamed in television news reports that included his photo.
The lawsuit instantly replaces the false naming of Richard Jewell, as the alleged bomber at the Olympics in Atlanta as the primary teaching tool in local newsrooms for how to report crime stories.
Archive: Ryan Larson and the urge to name suspects (Minnesota Public Radio News).