‘Fallen but not forgotten’


Hannah Burlingame photo/Review • Members of the Mendota Heights Police Department and officers from other departments attended the unveiling of a memorial July 30 to remember their fallen brother Scott Patrick, who was killed in the line of duty.

Hannah Burlingame photo/Review • The memorial was designed to look a flag. It serves as a way for people to remember the ultimate sacrifice Patrick made. Funding for it came from the Mendota Heights Benevolent Association.

Hannah Burlingame photo/Review • Michelle Patrick, Patrick’s widow, joined by daughters Amy and Erin, helped design the memorial that briefly describes their husband and father’s last call.

Hannah Burlingame photo/Review • At the end of the service, Mendota Heigts Mayor Neil Garlock embraced Michelle Patrick and told her, “We got it done.”

Hannah Burlingame photo/Review • On July 30, the fourth anniversary of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick’s death, more than 100 people attended the unveiling of a memorial in his honor at Market Square Park in the 700 block of Main Street in Mendota Heights.

Memorial revealed honoring late Mendota Heights officer

 

On a sunny July 30 afternoon, person after person poured into Market Square Park in the 700 block of Main Street in Mendota Heights to remember a fallen officer who was killed in the line of duty. 

That day, a memorial was unveiled honoring officer Scott Patrick, who was killed during a traffic stop four years ago to the day.

During the unveiling ceremony, Mayor Neil Garlock, a 25-year veteran of the Mendota Heights Police Department, said Patrick would have likely wondered why people were making a big deal out of the memorial.

“People will be able to honor Scott for his sacrifice he gave that day,” Garlock said.

 

July 30, 2014

On July 30, 2014, Patrick saw a car speeding in the opposite direction of him on Dodd Road. He caught up to the car in West St. Paul and pulled it over. As Patrick approached the vehicle, the driver, Brian Fitch Sr., leaned out the window and fired three shots, fatally wounding Patrick.

State Sen. Matt Klein, who spoke during the memorial’s unveiling, said as the shooter sped off, neighbors and passersby attempted to render first aid to Patrick — Fitch was arrested eight hours later and was convicted of murder less than a year later.

Klein said he was at home that day, a short walk from the site of the murder.

“Windows were open for the warm summer day and I remember the crescendo of sirens and the speeding vehicles, and then the horrible silence that spread like a wave through our neighborhood,” he said.

At the procession and burial a few days after Patrick’s death, Klein said thousands stood outside on the streets of West St. Paul and Mendota Heights with signs and flowers. 

“Our children stood by our sides wondering why good people were killed. Why those that step into danger to protect us are sacrificed, or why the friendly police officer at our neighborhood Holiday store would not go home to see his daughters,” he said.

Klein said in the years since that fateful day, Patrick’s family and police officers have made sure the tragedy will bind the community together.

The scene of the killing, a portion of trunk Highway 149, was named the Officer Scott Patrick Memorial Highway in 2015.

“His name on that highway and the memorial ... we are dedicating now, is a reminder that nothing in police work is ever routine,” Klein said. “In the days and years to come, families will pause here and see this name and this memorial. It will be for us to tell them this story, to make it more than stone and brass by a park bench.”

 

Remembering a brother, husband

The memorial came about as part of a 2015 legal settlement Patrick’s widow, Michelle Patrick, reached with the city of Mendota Heights. Months before his death, Patrick had filed a lawsuit against the city accusing the then-police chief of harassment and workplace retaliation after Patrick alleged two other offices had stolen a picnic table from the department.

There were two possible sites for the memorial — one in West St. Paul nearby where Patrick was killed — with the Market Square Park site being the second choice.

Mike Brue, one of Patrick’s brothers, said his brother would roll his eyes at the ceremony. 

“Even during the frustrations and complexities he increasingly faced behind the scenes as an officer, Scott found refuge out in the community among many of you,” Brue said. “It’s especially the day-to-day encounters with residents and visitors that he thrived on.”

Brue said his brother cherished the opportunity to “lead people to a little better place.”

Brue said he has been told a picture he took of his brother in 2013, an impromptu photo of Patrick in his squad car, thumb by his chin, captured Patrick as his family knew him.

“Four years later, many of us are still spending time untangling our fondest memories of Scott from those circumstance, both tragic and horrific,” Brue said. “I say confidently today that what’s become all too clear in hindsight as family members, friends, colleagues, as a community, [is] Scott gave us a whole lot of lucky days.”

Michelle Patrick said the memorial is long overdue for a wonderful man who gave the ultimate sacrifice, saying after the service that it is a relief that her late husband is finally going to be recognized. 

She said at first she was adamant about the memorial needing to be at the site of that final traffic stop. “Eventually, we’ll have something over there too, but this is more fitting to be here.”

Kellie Hunter-Patrick and Christopher Madson Patrick, Patrick’s great niece and nephew, said seeing so many people show up in support of their family was moving. 

“I hadn’t seen [the memorial] before the unveiling, purposefully so, because I wanted to get that first reaction. I think it’s absolutely amazing,” said Madson Patrick.

 

– Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com

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