False-accusing Duluth man claimed black man involved in shootingA Duluth man who police believe shot himself with a long gun falsely reported to a 911 operator that a black male was among the people he claimed shot him.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
A Duluth man who police believe shot himself with a long gun falsely reported to a 911 operator that a black male was among the people he claimed shot him.
That information was contained in a five-page transcript obtained by the News Tribune of the emergency call Alcide Thomas Cloutier made to 911 at 10:46 p.m. Jan. 22, after he sustained what police have determined was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen.
“We wouldn’t begin to speculate on why he said there was a black male,” Duluth police spokesman Jim Hansen said. “We just have to follow up on what he told us. There were many things in his story that didn’t match. I wouldn’t speculate on why he would say they were in a blue Chevrolet or some other color. We have no reason to believe that this is a racist incident.”
Claudie Washington, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, said he believes Cloutier’s claim was racist.
“People assume that if you implicate a black person the story is more legitimate, again, because of the racial stereotypes we see every day about blacks and crime,” Washington said.
“I think his motivation can very well have been to legitimize his complaint by saying a black person was involved. It also distorts where the investigation is going. I commend the police department for not buying into the story.”
The city of Duluth’s human rights officer, Bob Grytdahl, who spent 30 years as a police officer, was asked why he thought Cloutier, who is white, placed a black man at the scene. Was it simply an added embellishment?
“It doesn’t surprise me because I’ve seen people do that before,” Grytdahl said.
Without knowing more details about the incident, Grytdahl was reluctant to speculate on Cloutier’s alleged actions, but said: “I’ve heard people fabricate perpetrators and they try to make them believable. Unfortunately, in America, a black male is a pretty believable person to have committed a crime.”
According to the criminal complaint, Cloutier told police that he had been driving and witnessed a female being assaulted by two males inside a vehicle. He said he stopped to intervene and one of the men shot him with some type of long gun.
Officers found a firearm partially submerged in the snow on the Northland Country Club golf course. Investigators from the crime scene unit spotted small spots of blood in the snow and pieces of fabric that matched the fabric of some clothing worn by Cloutier.
Cloutier has felony convictions for second- and third-degree burglary, fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, being a felon in possession of a firearm and felony escape from custody.
Hansen said police haven’t yet traced how the gun allegedly wound up in Cloutier’s hands. The incident took place near McCulloch Street and the Northland Country Club golf course in the Lakeside neighborhood.
Cloutier, 34, is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality. He was not charged with falsely reporting a crime.
Cloutier has not yet made a court appearance. Police said he remains hospitalized in Duluth with a gunshot wound to the left side of his lower abdomen. He couldn’t be reached for comment in the hospital Thursday night.
According to the transcript, Cloutier told the 911 operator he was a fire student at Lake Superior
College. That information could not be confirmed on Thursday.
Here’s a portion of the 911 transcript:
911: This is 911. Can you tell me who shot you and where they are now?
Caller: I have no idea, but f …
911: Where did they shoot you?
Caller: In the stomach.
911: OK. And you don’t know who these people were?
911: We’ve got everybody on the way. Do you know what kind of gun was it? Do you know anything like that?
911: Did it happen in a house? Outside? Where?
Caller: I got out to help somebody … Hurry up.
911: It happened in the street?
911: OK. And, where did they go?
Caller: I don’t know.
911: You didn’t see who shot you? Do you know who shot you?
Caller: They beat up a girl, dude, then everybody took off.
911: Were they males?
Caller: Yes. One was black.
Later in the call:
911: You said one of them was a black male?
Caller: Yes, hurry up.
911: And was it a car or truck? Can you tell me that?
Caller: Car. Hurry. F… Please. I don’t wanna die.