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St. Paul trial starting this week to rehash 1970 ambush murder of police officer

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A federal lawsuit going to trial this week accuses some St. Paul police officers of avenging the 1970 murder of a fellow officer.

Gerald Hutchinson accuses three officers who arrested him in 2007 of using excessive force because they believed he was involved in Officer James Sackett's death, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1o6I7z4).

The officers' attorneys deny that and argue Hutchinson struggled and they used the force needed to arrest him.

According to court records, Hutchinson, now 60, was 16 when Sackett was shot on May 22, 1970, and he grew up near people implicated in the case. Deborah Hayden, Hutchinson's ex-girlfriend, told police in 2007 she was a witness and Hutchinson had threatened her and shown up recently at her workplace.

A police investigator issued a "pick up and hold" order for Hutchinson for "terroristic threats/stalking," a police report said. Officers went to his Dayton's Bluff residence March 28, 2007, to arrest him.

The officers say Hutchinson struggled with them after they told him he was under arrest. Officers Laura Bolduan and Jeffry Lewis grabbed Hutchinson's arms and told him to put his hands behind his back, but he pulled his arm away from Bolduan and put it in his jacket pocket, according to Bolduan's police report.

The Ramsey County attorney's office later declined to charge Hutchinson with terroristic threats because of "insufficient evidence to prosecute," a police report said.

Hayden had provided information to police about Hutchinson's "involvement in the aftermath of Officer Sackett's murder, including information" about the involvement of Hutchinson's acquaintances and sister, according to a court document filed by Margaret Skelton, an attorney for one officer being sued.

Hutchinson then "began to stalk and threaten" Hayden, Skelton wrote.

But Hutchinson's attorney, Andrew Irlbeck, argued in his trial brief that Hayden's "allegations were demonstrably false."

A $100,000 reward had been offered in the Sackett case and Hayden, now 55, had "tried to convince the police that she had knowledge of the murder, when all she actually 'knew' were the rumors that Hutchinson had repeated to her," Irlbeck wrote.

Hutchinson's lawsuit, filed in January of 2013, names Bolduan, Lewis and Officer David Stokes. The trial is set to begin Tuesday. Hutchinson is seeking at least $75,000 in damages. The jury will decide the excessive-force allegation.

After decades of investigation, two men were charged in 2005 with the ambush murder of Sackett. Ronald Lindsey Reed was sentenced to life in prison. Larry Larue Clark's conviction was overturned on appeal, and a plea agreement was then reached.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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