If police know about a murder plot, how far should they go to stop it? A FOX 9 exclusive gives a rare glimpse inside a notorious Minneapolis gang that executed a member last year even though police knew of the plan.
It all began with a joint investigation between Minneapolis police and FBI agents into a north Minneapolis street gang known for murder and dealing crack cocaine. The gang members didn't know it, but police were listening to every word through wiretaps -- including when they developed a plan to kill one of their own.
In retrospect, it seems everyone except Darrell Fisher's family knew he had a target on his back -- including the victim himself.
"It was like, the worst thing that happened to our family," Tara Fisher told FOX 9 News. "Now, we know it could have been prevented. Now, I want to know why it wasn't."
Fisher was certainly no stranger to trouble. His went by the street name "Black" as a member of the Young 'N Thuggin' gang, which is one of the most violent in the metro.
The gang lived up to its reputation at midnight on June 13, 2011. Fisher was partying on the porch of a duplex at 27th Street and Humboldt Avenue North when 20-year-old Christopher Clark, a fellow gang member, showed up. Though Fisher was armed, he never got a chance to pull his own gun before Clark opened fire. Clark chased Fisher to the back of the duplex, and Fisher died in an alley at 22.
There were 37 homicides in the city of lakes that year, but what made Fisher's death different from the others is that both suspect and victim were already unknowingly on the investigators' radar. In fact, the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force was using wiretaps to listen in on conversations the Young 'N Thuggin' gang members.
Gang members dubbed the attack on Fisher "Operation Bloodbath," and the FBI knew about it 72 hours before the murder after an incoming call from Clark was intercepted after agents tapped the cell phone belonging to Treyjohn Martin, another Young 'N Thuggin' member.
In the call, Clark explained he had gotten into a fist fight with Fisher over a drug deal and was looking for a gun to get even. Eventually someone else would get him that weapon, but not before Fisher called Martin himself.
Martin appeared to work both sides of the fence, and an e-mail between a Minneapolis police sergeant on the task force to a supervisor shows police were aware of the exchanges.
"There were calls last week between our target and the suspect in last night's shooting regarding the suspect's intent to shoot the victim," it read. "It's clear that it is YNT on YNT, so I wanted to give you a heads up in case you need to get in front of this thing."
Family members told FOX 9 News Fisher died on a Monday night even though the calls were made on Friday, but they didn't know about the phone calls until FOX 9 brought the recordings to their attention.
A law enforcement source familiar with Operation Bloodbath told FOX 9 News they heard the wiretap, but there were a couple of problems with trying to prevent the crime:
However, Fisher's family says there is a problem with that explanation and they want to know why investigators didn't simply trace the number.
What's more, Clark eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter -- a killing in the heat of passion -- despite the wiretap recordings containing proof of premeditation.
Fisher's family told FOX 9 News they are convinced that detectives didn't want to blow their case by revealing their wiretap; however, the FBI said it did try to intervene by staking out Martin to see if anyone came to get a gun.
The FBI eventually did get Martin, who was indicted earlier this year on drug charges. He is looking at a maximum of 20 years in prison. Clark, on the other hand, may be out of prison in just seven years.