Ricardo Torres Jr: A Fatal Encounter On The Fourth of July
He came to Minnesota for family and a fresh start.
Ricardo Torres Jr. needed the change in scenery from the small town he came from. Torres left Batesville, Texas for Olivia, Minnesota when he was 27. He met Natasha Lindner of Bird Island shortly after making his move up north. The pair started dating and nine months ago, their son was born. Torres embraced hunting and loved fishing in Minnesota - that’s what he was doing with his family on July 3rd. After their family day at Lake Minnie-Belle, Torres asked Lindner to drop him off at a friend's place in Olivia. He always kept his fishing equipment there and was hoping to do some night fishing as well. As he left the car, Torres told Lindner to give the kids a kiss for him and that he’d see them later that night. As she pulled out of the parking lot, she glimpsed back at Ricardo, not knowing this would be the last time she would see him alive.
At 4am, Natasha Lindner received a phone call from a friend of hers who lives near Dirks furniture.
“Tasha, there was some kind of altercation with Ricky and a cop, guns were shot, I don’t know if he shot the cop or the cop shot him”.
Lindner spent the next hour calling the police station, sheriff's office and hospital, all to no avail. After waiting for 45 minutes at the hospital, a sheriff's deputy arrived, along with an officer of the B.C.A. “ There was a deadly shooting and Torres was shot to death” is all they told her. Immediately a name came to her mind, Aaron Clause.
There was a long history between Officer Clouse of the Renville Police Department and Torres, a history that includes over four arrests including a chase which ended with Ricardo being tased to the ground. Lindner stated that with the record Ricardo came with meant that he was constantly under scrutiny from the local police department. Ricardo himself had criticized his treatment by the police.
“They’re always harassing me, they’re always picking me and my family out”.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (B.C.A) has said there is no video of the incident, as the Olivia Police do not have body nor dash cameras. The B.C.A. has been under increased scrutiny as of late. Their main office in Saint Paul was recently at the scene of a planned protest held by Twin Cities activists regarding the death of Winston Smith. As the leading agency in Minnesota responsible for investigating officer-involved shootings, many local activists believe the BCA is the last organization that can be trusted in these circumstances.
Natasha Lindner’s father led a prayer for Torres on the 7th of July. Dozens of family, friends and community members had gathered at the memorial. Candles, American flags and beer bottles adorned the spot where Torres lost his life. Mr. Lindner called for a moment of silence, but that moment was soon cut short by the cries of Torres and Lindner’s infant son. “Blessed be thy name”, as the prayer concluded, the weeping began. Torres’ mother, aunts, siblings and friends let out a wall of grief that filled the small lot where the memorial was taking place.
The trucks arrived seconds later.
“I don’t want trouble” Lindner told the crowd after she informed them that some “anti-activists” could be arriving soon.
Pictured: The alleged invitation amongst "anti-activists" in Olivia, MN.
*TNR cannot independently verify the image's authenticity.*
She reminded everyone that they were at a vigil, not a protest. As she continued to explain the situation to the crowd her voice grew more and more faint as loud revving engines replaced it. A glance into the road parallel to the lot revealed a fleet of pickup trucks decorated with flags of both the U.S. and former president Donald Trump. Chaos ensued as some demonstrators went out to confront the trucks and engaged in prolonged confrontations with individual drivers. Memorial goers wondered aloud where all the law enforcement was and why all the state troopers and police officers who were visibly gathered around the town’s entrance were nowhere to be seen. About 5 minutes later, state troopers arrived and began clearing the scene near the memorial.
The city of Olivia, a near 2 hour drive from Minneapolis is a small community, known as the king of corn. For a population below 2,500, the 5 officers that make up their police department more than suffice. With a social media presence that is dominated by images of lost cats and dogs, the agency seems to be no close acquaintance with controversy. At its best, controversy can be a catalyst for accountability and with no city ordinance requiring body cameras, Natasha is concerned about that potential lack of accountability.