Allegations that Minneapolis police spied on black organizations cannot be substantiated, prosecutor says

Erik Nilsson wrote to Mayor Jacob Frey and other city leaders that a review of thousands of social media documents found “no evidence that the MPD systematically targeted covert social networks to target black leaders, black organizations and elected officials without a public safety objective”. .”

“The city has repeatedly asked the MDHR for the specific documents it relies on – a reasonable request that lawyers for one side should make of those for another to support its conclusions regarding secret social media,” said wrote Nilsson. “The MDHR has repeatedly refused to share this vital information.”

The MDHR defended its findings on Saturday.

“The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation based on multiple lines of evidence and has found a pattern or practice of racial discrimination,” the agency said in a statement that did not. not responded to the allegation that she refused to share additional information with prosecutors. . “MPD’s misuse of secret social media is one of many important findings.”

In its report, the MDHR said a police officer used a “secret” social media account posing as a black resident to send a message to the local NAACP branch. According to the report, officers also used similar accounts to impersonate residents attacking police critics and local officials.

But the assistant city attorney said his office reviewed about 15,000 social media documents and found no evidence of espionage. Nilsson said the documents were being reviewed again and his office had canceled a meeting with the MDHR next week.

“Our scheduled meetings with MDHR cannot take place until we have reviewed the information supporting the report’s findings or MDHR agrees to share that information with the city,” Nilsson said.

MDHR said a dispute over the conclusion alone should not stop discussions.

“As we approach the second anniversary since an MPD police officer murdered George Floyd, the city must seize this opportunity to fight unlawful discrimination and strengthen public safety,” the statement said.

The state’s human rights investigation report, released last month, revealed a pattern of “race-based discriminatory policing” by Minneapolis officers dating back a decade.

State Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero blasted a department’s organizational culture marred by “flawed training that emphasized a paramilitary approach to policing”, a lack of accountability and the failure of police leaders to address racial disparities.

The report painted a damning picture of policing in Minneapolis, where, according to Lucero, black residents make up about 19% of the population, but 78% of all police searches from 2017 to 2020 involved black residents and their vehicles.

Frey at the time called the findings “disgusting, sometimes horrific” and called for a “complete culture shift” in policing.

The investigation began with a June 1, 2020 filing against the city by the Department of Human Rights to determine whether police engaged in a “pattern or practice” of racial discrimination.

The spying allegation was part of the 72-page report based on findings spanning a decade, including interviews with “dozens and dozens” of officers of all ranks, around 700 hours of camera footage carried over the bodies and statements of residents.

The US Department of Justice launched its own investigation into Minneapolis police in April 2021.

The state’s investigation began exactly one week after a bystander’s body camera and video captured the final moments of Floyd’s life on May 25, 2020.

Video showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the 46-year-old black man’s neck and back for more than nine minutes as Floyd gasped and told officers, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death and the video have sparked protracted protests across the country against police brutality and racial injustice.

Derek Chauvin is appealing his murder conviction in the death of George Floyd
That officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted in April 2021 of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The former officer is appealing the conviction on the grounds that the proceedings were tainted, his attorney citing, in part, the city’s announcement during jury selection that it would pay a $27 million settlement to the family by Floyd.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22½ years in prison, which exceeded Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines range of 10 years and eight months to 15 years. As part of a plea deal, Chauvin pleaded guilty in December to federal civil rights charges related to the death of Floyd and the restraint of a teenager in a separate incident.
Three other officers were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights by a federal jury in St. Paul, Minnesota.

CNN’s Keith Allen contributed to this report.

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