Man cleared in killing of Cold Spring cop sues KSTP-TV over reporting

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A man who was initially arrested in connection with the November 2012 shooting death of a Cold Spring police officer has filed a defamation suit against KSTP-TV, the Star Tribune reports.

Ryan Larson, then 34, was arrested the day after officer Tom Decker was killed outside a bar in Cold Spring. Larson lived in an apartment above the bar. He was held in jail for five days on suspicion of committing the crime, but was released without being charged.

Larson maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.

Larson filed the lawsuit in Ramsey County last Friday, claiming that KSTP's newscast on Nov. 30, 2012, falsely stated several times that Larson had been charged with a crime, when he had not, according to City Pages.

The lawsuit includes a quote from KSTP reporter Joe Mazan which said: "Police surrounded the scene and arrested Larson. He's charged with second-degree murder."

Another quote from reporter Todd Wilson, who said Larson "is charged with [Decker's] murder," repeated the claim, according to City Pages.

It also says KSTP did not make a correction on the air when Larson was released from jail or when officials announced a different person likely committed the crime, according to the Star Tribune.

Media coverage of the shooting was intense, and the Cold Spring police department had released Larson's name after he was arrested and identified him as a suspect.

The station's attorney told the Star Tribune Monday it had no reason to issue a correction because it reported information that police had made public at the time.

Larson, who now lives in Long Prairie, is seeking more than $50,000 from KSTP, the Star Tribune reports. Larson also sued WCCO earlier in April in federal court, making similar charges against that station and seeking $75,000.

Larson’s attorney, Stephen Fiebiger, said it's possible he will sue other media outlets because of their coverage of the case, according to the Star Tribune.

Decker, 31, was shot twice in the head at close range while making a welfare check on Larson about 10:45 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2012. That's what first led officials to suspect Larson in the crime.

Eventually another man whom Decker had arrested in 2011, Eric Thomes of rural Cold Spring, was named a person of interest in the shooting. He died by suicide in January 2013 after a standoff with police at his house. The murder weapon, a 20-gauge shotgun, was found on property that Thomes had access to.

Investigators officially wrapped up the case in August 2013 when they said they would have arrested Thomes in Decker's murder if he had not died.

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