Hwy 212 shooting: Father hires lawyer to look into daughter's death


The father of a woman shot and killed by police officers on Highway 212 in Eden Prairie a week ago is considering legal action against law enforcement in what he's calling the wrongful death of his daughter.

Dawn Pfister and her boyfriend, Matthew Serbus, were in a red Saab that led law enforcement on a high-speed chase in the west metro before the car crashed into a noise wall.

Confronted by several squad cars and police officers, 36-year-old Serbus emerged from the car wielding a knife. After ignoring repeated commands to drop the weapon, officers shot Serbus, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The agency says Pfister, 34, then grabbed the knife and was also shot.

"She was no threat to all of those officers," Pfister's father, Michael Kennedy, told KSTP. "There's nothing they can do to convince me that she could hurt any of them with a knife when they all stand there with bulletproof vests, guns and cars between them."

Kennedy, who lives in Texas, says he's hired a lawyer and is considering a lawsuit, KSTP reports.

The shooting raises the question: Did law enforcement use a reasonable level of force or was it excessive?

Mylan Masson, who runs a law enforcement training program at Hennepin Technical College, tells KSTP that the officers involved did exactly what they were trained to do.

Masson says in life and death situations, officers follow "Rule 21" – not allowing a suspect with a lethal weapon to come within 21 feet.

"It appeared on the video that this suspect was right up on the front of the car, right where the officer was. That's even less than 21 feet," Masson says.

"[A suspect] can cover this distance much more quickly than you perceive," Joe Dutton, a retired Golden Valley police officer and use of force expert, told FOX 9.

Dutton says studies have proven that when faced with a suspect who is making threats with a knife, an officer won't have the time to get their gun from a hip-holster and shoot if that suspect is within 21 feet.

Four officers involved in the fatal shooting of Pfister and Serbus have been placed on standard administrative leave while the state investigates.

The investigation, which often takes several months when law enforcement is involved, will be turned over to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to determine if the officers' actions warrant criminal charges.

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