Trial for Rochester man accused of shooting teen delayed after expert attests that RPD investigation “could have lacked objectivity”
(ABC 6 News) – A Rochester man’s pretrial, formerly scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16, was postponed pending new testimony from a 40-year expert in self-defense cases.
Steven Hart, 67, faces charges of 1st-degree and 2nd-degree assault after allegedly shooting a 15-year-old in the groin in March of last year.
Hart allegedly confronted a group of teenagers, one of whom may have pulled out a pocketknife.
According to court documents filed Monday, Feb. 13, Hart’s defense filed a motion to allow private investigator Allen Garber, described as a former Mankato resident with 40 years of law enforcement experience, to testify about self-defense and argue that Hart may have been injured if the teen had attacked him with a pocketknife.
Among the documents filed, Garber filed an “expert report” alleging that Rochester police may have concluded themselves that Hart was guilty of assault, and may not have fully investigated the scene based on that assumption.
In the report, Garber notes that a responding Rochester officer said in March that Hart was “not LE friendly,” which could have prejudiced officers against him.
“I am not aware that a crime scene investigation was conducted. To my knowledge
there were no measurements taken at the scene to determine the positions of
Hart, (the 15-year-old), and the other persons at the scene,” Garber’s report continued.
ABC 6 News has reached out to Rochester police to confirm Garber’s claim.
Garber’s testimony will, per court documents filed Monday, focus heavily on reaction time and distance from a possible threat to determine whether or not a person can be said to have acted in self-defense.
“In my opinion, this investigation was not conducted in a manner that I am
accustomed to seeing because the RPD made a determination that Hart was guilty
of assaulting (the 15-year-old),” the investigation reads. “Therefore, no further investigation was necessary.”
“This is not terribly unusual we have defense experts who pine differently than what we would suggest, those are good questions for a jury to decide,” Olmsted County attorney Mark Ostrem said.
Hart’s pretrial and trial had not been rescheduled Thursday, Feb. 16.