Shot 8 times by officers, West Fargo man still in hospital, hit with criminal charges
FARGO — A West Fargo man shot by two Becker County lawmen in September remains hospitalized but now faces criminal charges, and his mother says he may have tried to get officers to kill him so he wouldn't have to return to prison.
Dean Robert Minnerath, 55, has been charged with first-degree assault for using, or attempting to use, deadly force against a law enforcement officer; second-degree assault with a firearm; possession of a firearm in violation of a court order prohibiting that because of past convictions; and fleeing a peace officer.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has completed its investigation into the incident, but has not released any information about what it found. Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander said on Thursday, Oct. 26, that both officers involved in the shooting returned to work on Tuesday after being placed on administrative leave following the shooting.
Minnerath was shot near Audubon, Minn., on Sept. 28 after taking officers on a high-speed chase that reached speeds over 95 mph. Authorities received a report that night of a man, later identified as Minnerath, making threats to shoot or kill someone at the Cormorant Pub in Cormorant Village.
Deputy Daran Borth and Sgt. Dan May spotted Minnerath driving north on County Highway 5. They tried to pull him over, but he refused to stop. At U.S. Highway 10, Minnerath turned east and the Minnesota State Patrol joined in pursuit. The chase ended east of Audubon after the State Patrol punctured his tires using stop sticks.
According to the BCA, Minnerath immediately got out of his vehicle "brandishing a rifle" and pointing it in the direction of the two Becker County officers. Both officers fired their guns, hitting Minnerath. Medics took him by ambulance to the Detroit Lakes airport, and he was flown by helicopter to Essentia Health in Fargo.
Minnerath's mother, Judy Kenny, said she believes that her son pointed his rifle at deputies because he feared returning to prison. "He told his wife many times he was never going back to prison and if he ever was pulled over he would pull a gun and have them kill him," she said.
Kenny doesn't believe her son intended to harm the officers. "My son is many things, a very confused boy to a very confused man, but I never thought he could be a killer, and I still don't."
Kenny, who lives in Mississippi, said her son was shot eight times — once in the mouth, once in the neck, twice in the chest and four times in the abdomen. She said he was in a medically induced coma until last week and still cannot speak. She said his jaw had to be rebuilt, but that doctors found no evidence of brain damage.
"I'm just stunned that he's making it," she said.
The criminal complaint against Minnerath says that when officers took possession of his rifle after the incident, they found bullets in the gun. But the complaint does not indicate that he fired the gun.
Minnerath has a long history of drug and alcohol problems, and has been in and out of prison and jail — for meth and marijuana, for repeatedly driving under the influence, but also for assault, making terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, and resisting a police officer.
He had reasons to fear an encounter with police if he'd visited a bar or possessed a gun. Under the terms of a March 2017 drug conviction, he was forbidden from drinking, entering bars or liquor stores, or having contact with anyone while they are consuming alcohol or drugs. He was also under a lifetime ban from using or possessing a gun.