ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) – The man accused of shooting and killing Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick during a traffic stop last summer has been found guilty of murder.
After more than 10 hours of deliberation, a jury in St. Cloud on Monday found 40-year-old Brian Fitch Sr. guilty of first-degree murder. Fitch was also found guilty of three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault as well as two weapons charges stemming from a shootout with officers during his arrest in St. Paul. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
As the verdict was being read, Fitch swore at the judge and called the jury “biased” before he was removed from the courtroom.
During the roughly two weeks of trial, prosecutors showed dash-cam videos of the July 30 shooting that took Patrick’s life. In them, the 19-year veteran police officer is seen pulling over for a routine traffic stop, getting out of his squad car in no apparent hurry and being fatally shot just seconds later.
Prosecutors called several witnesses to the stand, and some described seeing a white man speeding away from the scene in a green Pontiac.
The shooting led to a day-long manhunt across the Twin Cities metro. Eventually, police arrested Fitch in St. Paul after a shootout that left Fitch with eight bullet wounds.
His former girlfriend, Taya Moran, told the jury that the night before the shooting, while the two were high on meth, Fitch had said that he “would shoot the cop” if he ever got pulled over.
She said Fitch had been upset that she gave his number to police following an argument. There was also a warrant out for his arrest.
The defense tried to argue that the prosecution’s timeline didn’t add up. After the shooting, which took place at 12:20 p.m., Fitch was supposed to have dumped his getaway car behind a home on South Robert Street in St. Paul.
But residents at the home testified that Fitch arrived at the house just after high noon, when he offered to pay $800 for his friend’s mother’s SUV. That was the car he was in when he got into a firefight with police before being arrested.
Last week, Fitch waived his right to testify.
The jury reached its decision just before 10 p.m. Monday night, and very soon after, we heard from the Mendota Heights Police Chief and Officer Patrick’s family.
“We would hope that Brian Fitch would someday find remorse and find accountability. That might be his only chance to find his own soul,” Officer Patrick’s brother, Mike Brue, said.
“He has taken so much from us, and he didn’t need to. I just want to bless him and hope that he realizes what he has done. Amen to him,” Officer Patrick’s wife, Michelle Patrick, said.
Because the shooting’s coverage in the media was thought to have influenced potential jurors, the trial was moved from counties in the east metro to Stearns County.
Fitch will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Dakota County Court in Hastings.