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Minnesota sheriff's deputy on leave after shooting man last week

Goodhue County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Sutton-Brown, a nearly 20-year law enforcement veteran, shot an unarmed 24-year-old Fernando Javier Carbajal after authorities say Carbajal chased the deputy. Sutton-Brown is on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation by the BCA.

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ST. PAUL — Steve Sutton-Brown has been identified by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as the Goodhue County deputy who shot 24-year-old Fernando Javier Carbajal during a physical altercation last week in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Sutton-Brown, a nearly 20-year law enforcement veteran, fired his department handgun and is on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation by the BCA. The BCA will present its findings without recommendation to the Goodhue County Attorney's Office for review.

A previous statement from the BCA said that the Red Wing Police Department was also investigating.

Carbajal is facing two felony assault charges and one gross misdemeanor assault charge related to his alleged assault against Sutton-Brown. His next appearance is scheduled for Dec. 21.

There is no video of the shooting, though a witness recorded the altercation prior to the shooting, according to the BCA.

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According to court documents and the BCA:

Carbajal was driving between 50 and 90 miles per hour when he crashed his into a telephone pole near Bay Point Park shortly before 1 p.m. Nov. 22, 2022. He left the vehicle and walked away from the crash.

Sutton-Brown was attending diver training nearby and arrived first on the scene. Shortly after he told dispatch he was making contact, Sutton-Brown was heard over the radio saying Carbajal was suicidal. A report of shots fired was reported by dispatch following contact between the pair.

Witnesses told law enforcement they saw Carbajal rush the deputy, who is an investigator with the Sheriff's Office.

"Because Sutton-Brown had come from training, he did not have his normal array of tools, including less-lethal options like aerosol, a baton or a Taser," reads part of a news release about the incident from the BCA.

Witnesses told law enforcement that it appeared Sutton-Brown attempted to tase Carbajal before discharging his firearm.

“He was screaming and being aggressive and had his arms up," one witness told law enforcement. "She added that it looked to her that the male (Carbajal) was trying to challenge the officer to a physical fight," reads part of the complaint.

Sutton-Brown was not wearing his uniform but had a sweatshirt on from the Sheriff's Office. His unmarked vehicle also had its emergency lights turned on.

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Sutton-Brown fired three rounds at an unarmed Carbajal who was hit at least once. After one of the shots, Carbajal fell down but got back up and continued to chase the deputy, one witness told law enforcement.

The interaction lasted about a minute, according to one witness.

"He just kept coming at me," Sutton-Brown told a Red Wing police sergeant, adding that he hurt his foot when he fell down. Sutton-Brown suffered a broken foot and was treated at Mayo Clinic-Red Wing.

Carbajal was transported to Mayo Clinic-Red Wing then later to Mayo Clinic in Rochester where he was treated and released into the custody of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office the next day.

Carbajal has posted a $10,000 bail and is no longer in custody. Part of his release conditions include a mental health evaluation.

"When you put everything together, the nature of and circumstances of the charged offense, his alleged statements, as well as his actions that day, support a finding that the defendant was actively trying to commit suicide or suicide by cop," Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Lousie Kuester said in court.

Red Wing Assistant Police Chief Travis Bray responded to the scene and recognized Carbajal from Bray's time as a school resource officer and football coach at Red Wing High School. Bray assisted with providing Carbajal medical treatment.

"I am sorry Bray. I didn't want you to see me this way," Carbajal said to Bray. "I did some real bad stuff, stuff that my family would not be proud of, I really messed up."

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Carbajal was traveling around 90 mph when he crashed, he told Bray.

Witnesses said Carbajal was driving erratically before the crash.

The BCA recovered three bullet casings at the scene.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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