Initially, police believed he killed Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker, but Ryan Larson remains a free man and he sat down with FOX 9's Tom Lyden to explain why.
"I'm at my wit's end trying to clear my name," Larson admitted.
Larson said his life is stuck in limbo. He's still no longer living in the apartment above Winner's Bar, from which he was dragged out of bed and arrested nearly five months ago because investigators believed he shot Decker, who lay dead outside after attempting to perform a welfare check on Larson.
Larson spent five days sitting in jail before he was released on lack of evidence -- but ever since, he says he has been living in a prison of suspicion.
"All I want is my name cleared," he said. "It's unfair to me. It's unfair to my friends and family."
FOX 9 News asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Department of Public Safety whether Larson was still considered a suspect, but a spokesperson said what they had before -- that the investigation is ongoing and active.
As for Larson, he blames Decker's partner that night, Officer Greg Reiter, for offering conflicting and contradictory accounts of the shooting.
"You just watched your partner get shot and you can't even get on your speaker and call officer down?" Larson asked. "Something's wrong, and I'm tired of taking the heat for it."
Worse still, Larson said he believes that detectives ignored important clues in the beginning of the investigation because they were focusing on him.
"You have an eye-witness account of a black van leaving the scene with a loud exhaust," he exclaimed.
That tip eventually led police to Eric Thomes, who hung himself four months ago rather than speak with investigators again. Sources told FOX 9 News a suicide note led police to the murder weapon, a 20-guage shotgun.
With Thomes gone, Larson remains the only publicly-identified suspect -- but he said he's never been asked to come in for more questioning. Meanwhile, his name still seems synonymous with "cop killer" online.
In some ways, Larson is not unlike Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused in the Atlanta Olympic bombing. He's also similar to the men falsely identified as the Boston bombers, and the Elvis impersonator, Paul Kevin Curtis, who was recently exonerated after being accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other lawmakers.
"If they would have came out … and said, 'You arrested the wrong guy,' like the FBI did with the ricin guy -- you know, I understand people make mistakes," Larson said. "It would've been water under the bridge."
Instead, the Stearns County attorney and sheriff have banned Larson from showing up at their offices, requiring him to communicate his grievances in writing. That leaves Larson stuck as a suspect when he's more than willing to be a witness.
"I've always been willing to talk to them," he said. "I've never turned them down."
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