Mother of hostage shot by officers can't lay son to rest - New York News

Mother of Red Roof Inn hostage shot by officers can't lay son to rest

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A metro mother is still struggling for closure two months after her teenage son was mistakenly shot and killed by police in August, telling FOX 9 News she has yet to lay her son to rest because his body has not been released.

Mark Henderson, 19, was one of several hostages being held inside the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury during a police standoff this past summer.

"I would want them to know that my son was not a bad person," said Tawana Henderson. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

In most criminal investigations, the bodies of suspects or victims are usually released to family members once an autopsy is complete -- but since the case is still being investigated as an officer-involved shooting, the release has gotten complicated.

Police say 25-year-old Demetrius Ballinger was holding 11 people at gunpoint inside a room at the Red Roof Inn when Henderson tried to escape.

"He was in a hostage situation. He was running for his life," Henderson told FOX 9 News. "He thought he was running to safety. Instead, he got killed by the police."

Three Woodbury officers have been on paid administrative leave while the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has conducted an investigation into the shooting, but Henderson says she still doesn't have any answers.

"No one has talked to me since my son been killed," she said. "No one has contacted me, called me. No sorry, nothing."

Earlier this week, the case was handed over to the Ramsey County Attorneys Office for consideration of criminal charges against the officers -- but in the meantime, Henderson's body has been held by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner.

"I'm just waiting on them to get done with the investigation so I can have my son cremated," Henderson said.

Therein lies the problem. The medical examiner told FOX 9 News he is more than willing to release the body for burial, but he can't because the remains are now considered evidence and have not been authorized to be cremated.

However, that reason doesn't bring any peace to Henderson, who says investigators already added insult to by removing the body before his funeral visitation had ended.

"I was more embarrassed that they came right when all the family was there to take his body back instead of waiting until we left," she said, explaining that her son's body was taken directly from the service.

Prosecutors have just received the case, which could go to a grand jury. If the officers who shot Henderson are charged, their defense team could request their own, independent autopsy -- and that could take even more time. Even though those who shot her son may face criminal charges, Henderson said she is not comforted.

"It doesn't make me feel better because I still don't know when I will be able to put my son to rest," she said. "It doesn't make me feel better at all."

A memorial fund has been established to help the family with funeral costs. Anonymous donations to the Mark Henderson Trust can be mailed to the following address:

Mark Henderson Trust
c/o TCF Bank
1988 Suburban Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55119

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