Family of woman killed on Highway 212 sues officer who shot her

The family of the 34-year-old woman who was shot and killed on Highway 212 in Eden Prairie a year ago filed a lawsuit against the Chaska officer that shot her.

Dawn Marie Pfister and 36-year-old Matthew Vincent Serbus died from multiple gunshot wounds following the chase and crash that closed Highway 212 in both directions a year ago this Saturday.

The lawsuit, filed against Chaska Police Sgt. Brady Juell and the city of Chaska, contends Juell employed "unconstitutional use of deadly force" and says "Pfister was shot four times, (three in the chest and one in the back) all while she posed no immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death to police officers." 

The lawsuit details the events leading up to the deadly shooting, and says Sgt. Juell received a dispatch call for an erratic, speeding driver headed east on Highway 212. Serbus, the driver, had allegedly stolen the vehicle from Denver and hit another vehicle during the course of a police chase. Pfister "did not exercise any control over the movement, speed or direction of the Saab," the lawsuit says. Serbus ultimately crashed on 212 near Highway 101 at Dell Road.

"Serbus dragged Pfister from the driver's door of the Saab. Serbus held onto Pfister, appearing to treat her as a human shield," the filing continues. According to squad video released from the scene, Minnesota State Trooper Lund said, "He's going for a gun. Got her as body armor."

In the video, officers are heard saying they believe Serbus had a knife and that it looked like he was going to stab Pfister. When officers shot Serbus, they said it appeared he was stabbing her and pulled her down with him when he was shot. They added Pfister took the knife from Serbus and "advanced it toward the officers," and she was then shot. The lawsuit says Pfister only grabbed the knife to get it away from him, and only targets Sgt. Juell in the shooting.

"This is the most egregious use of deadly force that I've ever seen, and that includes viewing all the ones in Minnesota, and even the ones I looked at nationally," attorney Bob Bennett said. "You can't shoot a hostage that's seated on the ground."

Four of the eleven officers admitted to the BCA that they fired their weapons at the scene. Juell is an 18-year veteran of the Chaska Police Department.

RAW VIDEO: Crash, shooting on Hwy 212 (graphic content)

WARRANTS: Attempted car theft prior to chase, shooting

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