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Updated: Woman Golden Valley Officer Shot, Killed on I-394 Now Identified

The 58-year-old Altadena, CA, woman died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The woman a Golden Valley police officer shot and killed on I-394 on Thursday has been identified.

Katherine Marie Gordon, 58, of Altadena, CA, died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to a spokeswoman from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office. The manner of death is listed as homicide.

The officer tried to stop a woman in a vehicle on I-394 near Highway 169, according to a statement from Stacy Carlson, Golden Valley police chief. The driver pulled the car to the side of 394 near the Hopkins Crossroad.

"The lone occupant of the vehicle, an adult female, was in possession of a handgun and was subsequently fatally shot by the officer," Carlson's statement said. "The officer did not sustain any injuries."

In a statement Saturday morning, Carlson declined to provide more information about the shooting, including whether or not Gordon pointed the gun at the officer.

The Star Tribune is reporting, through an unnamed source within the Golden Valley Police Department, that Gordon had a history of mental illness and pointed her gun at the officer. However, that report contradicts what her friend, Charmaine Wahlstrom Schodde, said she knew of Gordon.

"Katherine was a beautiful woman inside and out. She was meticulous and cautious," Schodde wrote in an email to Dan Abendschein of Altadena Patch in California. "A good and loving person who had a gentle and loving spirit."

that Gordon lived in Altadena but was a frequent visitor to Minnesota. Gordon stayed with family and friends for long periods of time, including at Schodde's house last year.

In the email to Abendschein, Schodde said she found Gordon's death "absolutely shocking," adding there's "absolutely no way that Katherine would have intended to shoot an officer."

When officers are dealing with a person with a weapon, they are trained to "stop the threat, which means aiming for the center mass of a suspect’s body," Police Chief Carlson said.

"After an officer-involved shooting, it is common for the public to ask why the officer didn’t just shoot the gun out of someone’s hand or hit them in the kneecap—like they do on TV," Carlson said. "The answer is that TV is not reality, and many officers have been killed by someone who was able to continue firing a gun even after being partially wounded."

The police department hasn't identified the officer, who is on paid administrative leave. A Minneapolis Star Tribune article, however, identifies him as Rob Zarrett. That article says Zarrett was the subject of a lawsuit stemming from a 2005 incident in which he fired a stun gun at a woman as she sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle. The woman later sued the Golden Valley Police Department and the case was settled for $250,000.

Golden Valley Patch hasn't confirmed the information in the Star Tribune article.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is in charge of the investigation.

The last time a shot someone was in 1994, Carlson said, and it's been 31 years since a Golden Valley officer fatally shot someone.

Carlson also said, "The instance of needing to draw a gun in response to a suspect who has a gun is rare."

The police chief said officers "frequently" patrol the freeway or respond to incidents there.

Patch local editors James Warden, Michael Rose, Becky Glander and Dan Abendschein contributed to this report.

Meganjune Fleming September 25, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Even if you can legally carry you keep that piece out of sight. There is no reason to "keep your hand on it" a person posing as an officer wouldn't have a cruiser that's fully marked. Also, if I were a cop and I saw gun. I would shoot. People have to realize how serious guns are. If you have one it's purpouse is to kill regardless of what the wielders intentions are, the perception from the barrel's end is "I'm dead"
Julie M September 25, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Margaret, I know they teach you in CA , as I have had a license there, to keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them as they approach the vehicle once you have been pulled over. To have your hand on a gun, legal or not, loaded or not, in the car as a officer approaches, that is a quick way to either be gravely hurt, or be treated as a criminal until they can determine the gun is legal. I don't care where you are, you don't drive with your hand on a gun and tempt fate with law enforcement unless you are looking for a payment from a lawsuit. The other problem, she was in the median, supposedly with a gun. I don't quite see how that is a cultural misunderstanding. If she had gotten shots off, what do you suppose the chances are a stray bullet would hit a passing vehicle? I am thinking pretty good. We are lucky that there were not more injuries because of a woman getting out of her car at a traffic stop with a gun in hand. Not only did the womans family lose a loved one, but a officer had to act and ended up taking a life as a result.
alan kvasnik September 26, 2011 at 07:07 AM
Why shut down the freeway for six hours?
Kevin September 26, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Doesn't sound like this is Officer Zarretts first time being overly aggressive towards women.... http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/09/07/081640P.pdf He tasered a women for no reason in 2008.... he settled the suit for $200K in 2009. http://www.startribune.com/local/west/60107767.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue
David K September 27, 2011 at 04:45 AM
We will NEVER know the truth! Hopefully this will be a great example of why NOT to carry a gun! Odd are 200,000 – 1 you would ever get carjacked (or shot by a police officer). If a car jacker came up to your car and saw you reach for your gun……..guess who shoots first. I don’t carry as it only leads to trouble. This is a case in which an officer saw a gun (maybe even sitting on the passenger seat) and he freaked out! Believe me, the truth will NEVER surface to the public.

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