Wrongly accused Cold Spring man settles with news media

Last time we checked, authorities who were in charge of investigating the killing of Cold Spring, Minnesota, police officer Tom Decker had still not apologized to Ryan Larson, the man they identified as an initial suspect with no evidence to suggest he did it.

He didn’t do it and today another area TV station has settled its case, filed because it didn’t wait a little while longer and ask the right questions of authorities to provide the evidence they claim led them to Larson.

Larson sued several area TV stations for defamation. WCCO was sued because it tweeted his name as a suspect. That station settled awhile ago.

Today, the Pioneer Press reports that KSTP has now also settled its case with Larson and it provides yet another reason for local media to wait until a person is actually charged with a crime before naming a suspect, even if the competition has rushed to judgment and picked up the pitchforks.

In its Nov. 30, 2012 news show, KSTP said “Police surrounded the scene and arrested Larson. He’s charged with second-degree murder.”

But while Larson was held pending charges, those charges were never filed, and they were never filed for good reason — there was no evidence against him.

The person now believed to have been the killer, took his own life as police moved in on him.

Settlement terms with Larson and KSTP were not disclosed. A statement from both sides said only that the case has been settled “amicably.”

The takeaway for the media is the one that’s as old as the quill pen: Take your time. Get it right.

  • Robert Moffitt

    While the police served up Larson to the media on a tray, they covered up the tracks of one of their own, Greg Reiter, the Cold Spring officer who left his partner to die and ran away. It was quite some time before they even publicly acknowledged that Decker wasn’t alone the night he was shot.
    (shakes head)