A half dozen local civil rights groups are calling for a grand jury investigation of the disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced last week that no criminal charges would be filed against officers assigned to the disgraced law enforcement agency.
In part, Freeman blamed the gang task force’s shoddy record keeping as part of the reason that a credible criminal case couldn’t be built. “The record keeping is so bad, it’s stunning,” he told reporters.
But the civil rights organizations — including the Minneapolis and St. Paul chapters of the NAACP — say that such an excuse wouldn’t be tolerated in most criminal investigations, particularly those focused on minorities. Here’s part of their statement:
In the African-American community and other communities of color, irrespective of whether a
criminal defendant cooperates with the prosecution in disclosing participation in criminal
activity, he or she is still often prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Excuses are not
accepted in those instances and the excuse that has been offered here, such as a lack of evidence, should not be accepted in this instance. From where we stand shredding of documents sounds like obstruction of justice, to say the least. Not to mention numerous other ethical, civil liberties, and civil rights violations that allegedly occurred at the hands of the Metro Gang Strike Force.
A pair of scathing reports released last year describe officers assigned to the gang strike force routinely seizing property from individuals without justification and failing to maintain any reasonable records of their investigations. Last month, a class action lawsuit accusing the agency of civil rights violations was settled for $3 million.