Minneapolis Bans ‘Warrior-Style’ Training for Police Officers


During his State of the City address on April 18, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that the city will ban its police officers from participating in “warrior-style” training, even when it’s self-funded and off duty.

While the Minneapolis Police Department doesn’t currently offer any fear-based trainings, they “remain available to officers off-duty,” Frey said. “That’s why today we’re announcing that the Minneapolis Police Department will be — we believe — the first major department in the nation to prohibit fear-based training” both on and off-duty.

“Warrior-style” training takes a fear-based approach to policing that prioritizes officer safety over community safety by conditioning trainees to view all encounters as inherently dangerous. The most well-known examples are offered by retired Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and his Grossman Academy. The philosophy behind his courses and his book, “On Killing,” is this: Both soldiers and police officers should be trained to kill with less hesitation.

After praising the department for various achievements like offering wellness trainings to help officers combat the trauma they experience on the job, Frey explained that the popular fear-based trainings run counter to the department’s vision.

“There are external trainings that have no place in the vision and culture shift outlined by our chief. Chief Medaria Arradondo’s MPD rests on trust, accountability, and professional service. Whereas fear-based, warrior-style trainings like ‘killology’ are in direct conflict with everything that our chief and I stand for in our police department,” Frey said.

“Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people.”

“Basically, the issue is that Grossman’s ‘killology’ idea and course has no scientific basis in reality,” says Michelle Gross, the president of Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality. Gross’ organization has met with Mayor Frey and has been working with Chief Arradondo since he assumed the role in 2017 to oust fear-based training, a term Gross says her organization coined in order to describe trainings like Grossman’s and more.

“We wanted to make it clear that these trainings are under all kinds of names and have a very powerful influence on police,” she says.

Gross, who became interested police brutality activism after experiencing it herself, sees no need for the warrior-style trainings that Frey has moved to eliminate. “This kind of training where danger is lurking at every corner and you should be prepared to gun down people … basically teaches officers to be fearful when they don’t need to be. What we see as a result is what’s happened with Officer Yanez who killed Philando Castile.” Yanez had taken a “Bulletproof Warrior” seminar through Grossman’s organization before the 2016 traffic stop in which he shot Castile.

Frey’s announcement comes as another police brutality trial is underway in the Twin Cities, this time of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond in Minneapolis in 2017.

Not everyone is pleased with the announcement. Last week, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis — the union that represents officers, sergeants, and lieutenants across the MPD and park police — announced an exclusive partnership with Law Officer, a self-described “industry leader” in law enforcement training, to provide fear-based training through the company’s website and app for the rest of Frey’s term for free, defying Frey’s ban.

Travis Yates, director of training for Law Officer, said in a press release that “it is both an honor and a privilege to provide the heroes of the Minneapolis Police Department daily training that can ensure they will return home each day to their family regardless of the dangers that they may face and the ignorance of some politicians.”

In the release, President of the Police Officer’s Federation of Minneapolis Lt. Bob Kroll thanked Law Officer for defying the mayor, adding that “while it seems that the lives of our officers are not important to politicians, they certainly are by Law Officer and we are grateful for this partnership.”

In response, Frey has doubled down on his commitment to ban the trainings. “We have adopted this new policy because proper training on use of force and de-escalation is of paramount importance,” Mayor Frey said in a statement. “Officers found to pursue any training that conflicts with MPD’s training and has not been preapproved will be subject to discipline.” Chief Arradondo’s public information officer refused to make him available for this story.

The move could set the stage for a court case, and the union, at least, is ready. “We’ve ran it by our attorneys and are prepared to go down that route … for unfair labor practices,” Kroll told Next City.

Last week, union leadership met with Chief Arradondo, but no agreement has been reached, the Star Tribune reported.

In the meantime, Gross remains hopeful as her organization continues to combat police brutalities.

“Getting rid of this training is a life-saving measure because [the training] promotes killing more people. We would like it if they didn’t kill anybody at all,” she says. “I hope it’s a chance to change the culture of policing and … change it in a way that police will be less likely to kill people and less likely to be brutal and more prone to use methods of de-escalation.”

CINNAMON JANZER, APRIL 30, 2019, “Minneapolis Bans ‘Warrior-Style’ Training for Police Officers”, https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/minneapolis-bans-warrior-style-training-for-police-officers


Hennepin County Attorney’s Office likely to dismiss 32 cases after Eden Prairie detective falsified search warrant

Eden Prairie detective tainted at least 32 cases.
Video (05:20) : Two people in prison will likely be released after it was revealed that Eden Prairie police detective Travis Serafin illegally searched a defendant’s car, then created a search warrant after the fact.

An Eden Prairie police detective’s falsified search warrant in a drug case that sent a man to prison has called into question 32 other cases and led to a criminal investigation of the officer, Hennepin County prosecutors said Friday.

The county attorney reviewed cases handled by detective Travis Serafin after he seized drugs from the car of 36-year-old Timothy M. Holmes without a search warrant in September 2017, then falsified one afterward.

At a news conference Friday morning, Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown said he believes Serafin’s misconduct is limited to the lone case, but defense attorneys were notified in other cases involving Serafin that remained open at the time he falsified the warrant.

As a result, 32 cases are targets for dismissal because Serafin was a critical witness. There are another 11 cases in which Serafin was a peripheral witness, and the defense lawyers have been contacted. Two people in prison, including Holmes, will likely be released.

“It’s devastating; I’ve been a prosecutor in Hennepin County for over 30 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Brown said. “Our trust, the trust of the law enforcement officers who do just exceptional work, and the trust in our prosecutors is everything, so when something like this happens as part of our initiative in doing the right thing, we know our obligation is to take steps as soon as we can to right that wrong.”

On Friday, Holmes’ attorney Fred Goetz said he filed a motion seeking to withdraw his client’s guilty plea and vacate his sentence.

“This is a significant development and we believe it’s going to have a significant impact on our case,” he said.

Serafin could not be reached for comment. Sean Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, the union that represents Eden Prairie police officers, said: “We are concerned any time questions are raised about a member of our law enforcement community. However, we caution against making a rush to judgment.”

Serafin, 41, was hired by Eden Prairie in October 2000. He was named officer of the year. The city listed his status as employed but would not say whether he was on leave or was currently being paid. He earns $92,289 annually.

Eden Prairie Police Chief Greg Weber said in a statement that an administrative investigation has begun.

“The Eden Prairie Police Department holds officers to extremely high ethical standards. The Department also affords officers time for due process if their actions are called into question,” Weber said. “Although it is difficult for me not to provide further comment on an issue involving the Eden Prairie Police Department, it is important for our organization to follow appropriate protocol.”

A second warrant turns up

As part of a September 2017 drug investigation, Serafin obtained a search warrant for a house and found large amounts of heroin and fentanyl, Brown said. Serafin then searched Holmes’ car and found a smaller amount of drugs. Holmes was charged with first-degree drug sale and third-degree murder related to the overdose death of a person to whom Holmes had sold heroin.

As prosecutor Michael Radmer reviewed the file, he noticed there was no search warrant for the car. He asked Serafin for it, and a week later Serafin sent a warrant that was identical to the first, including the judge’s signature. This time, however, it included language authorizing a search of the car.

In January 2018, Goetz, Holmes’ attorney, questioned why there were two search warrants. Serafin testified in a hearing that the discrepancy was due to a “clerical error” in the warrants.

In March, Holmes pleaded guilty to a first-degree drug sale charge. As part of the plea, Hennepin County Judge Fred Karasov dropped the third-degree murder charge. Holmes was sentenced to six years in prison.

Karasov, however, was concerned about the two warrants and sent a transcript of Serafin’s testimony to the Eden Prairie police. The city investigated and found a “preponderance of evidence” establishing misconduct by Serafin. They determined that Serafin had created a second warrant for the car and claimed it had been signed by Hennepin District Judge Jay Quam, but the judge had signed only the warrant for the house.

‘Inexcusable’ and ‘baffling’

Serafin was removed from the Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force and a SWAT team training unit and required to attend ethics training and work with a supervisor on the “creation and execution of any future search warrants.” Brown said the findings have been forwarded to the McLeod County Attorney’s Office for possible charges against Serafin.

“Detective Serafin’s behavior was wrong and inexcusable,” Brown said. “It was also baffling to us because the legal search of the home provided more than enough evidence for our case, and if he had been honest, we would simply have agreed to have the drugs from the car be removed from consideration in those cases. The fair trial of a defendant depends on complete truthfulness by everyone involved. That did not happen here.”

Of the cases involved in which Serafin was the main witness, three men are in prison. Two could be released; the third has other charges pending in another county.

Five men are in diversion programs, and their convictions will be dismissed and expunged, Brown said. In 17 cases, defense lawyers have been asked to file motions to vacate convictions, which the prosecutors will then do, Brown said. Serafin had four active warrants out that will be dismissed.

In 14 other cases, Serafin was determined to be a peripheral witness. Three of those were sent to diversion so they will be dismissed and expunged. Of the remaining 11 cases, defense lawyers have been notified.

Serafin also played a key role in the arrest and convictions of Beverly Burrell, a major heroin dealer. Her case is not one of those at issue in the investigation because it was completed before the date on the falsified warrant.

“While there should have never been this kind of dishonesty in the first place, everyone has done their best to repair these damages collectively,” Brown said. “We feel like we have taken the steps to repair damages and restore integrity to the system.”


Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest

Man’s arrest, incident caught on tape last year.
Video (05:00) : State leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union released a July 2016 squad car video Thursday of what they say is a law enforcement officer’s “disturbing and completely unnecessary … brutal attack” on a motorist in Worthington who was suspected of initiating a dangerous road-rage encounter that same day and resisting arrest.

A Worthington, Minn., man filed an excessive force lawsuit Wednesday against the Worthington Police Department over his 2016 arrest, saying he thought he was going to die after being forcibly removed from his vehicle and repeatedly struck by an officer.

Anthony Promvongsa, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, was pulled over July 28 of last year in downtown Worthington after being accused of tailgating two off-duty officers.

A police squad car video of the arrest shows an agent with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force approach Promvongsa’s Honda Pilot SUV with his service pistol drawn while shouting obscenities. About 10 seconds after Promvongsa pulls over, the agent, Joe Joswiak, opens the Honda Pilot driver’s door and tugs at Promvongsa in an attempt to pull him from the driver’s seat. Promvongsa said later that he was still wearing his seat belt.

Joswiak immediately began striking Promvongsa, first with his knee, then with his fist and then with his elbow — nine attempted strikes in all — as he pulled Promvongsa from the Honda.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, names the Worthington Police Department, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, the City of Worthington, Joswiak, Worthington police Sgt. Tim Gaul and Nathan Grimmius, officer Dan Brouillet and Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel.

Appel was out of the office and not immediately available for comment Wednesday. He initially said the video only shows a portion of what took place.

Promvongsa pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault against the two off-duty officers he was accused of tailgating, according to the ACLU. Fifth-degree assault includes threatening to harm someone, or doing something that causes someone to fear immediate bodily harm. He also pleaded guilty to one count of driving after revocation.

ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson said the arrest is part of a larger pattern of behavior by Worthington police and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.

“Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. The brutal assault against Anthony Promvongsa violated his rights,” Nelson said in a statement.


“Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest”, http://www.startribune.com/worthington-man-files-police-brutality-suit-over-2016-arrest/457775973/

Police chief ‘suspended indefinitely’ after prostitution bust


WALNUT GROVE, Minn. – A small town Minnesota police chief has been “suspended without pay indefinitely” after being caught in a minor prostitution sting.

Redwood County prosecutors have charged 45-year-old Michael Robert Zeug with prostitution-attempting to hire a minor under 18. The charge is a felony and carries the possibility of a five-year prison sentence, $10,000 fine or both.

The criminal complaint filed against Zeug details how he was busted as part of a covert operation to target men in southwest Minnesota trying to hire minors for sex. Members of the task force posted an ad on Craigslist offering sexual services in exchange for cash and Zeug responded to the ad, thinking he was communicating with a 17-year-old girl. Instead, it was an undercover officer who arranged to have sex with Zeug at a home in Redwood Falls.

Prosecutors say during the conversation to set up the sexual encounter the undercover officer told Zeug that the reason for the Craigslist ad was “just like to make a little extra money here and there ya know? plus, I like to **** so why not!!” Correspondence reveals that Zeug responded, “yeah this isn’t my first time” and “humm yeah I’m wanting to meet up but man you need to reassure me your not working with the cops and crap.”

Electronic communication revealed that Zeug also sent the undercover officer several messages that were sexual in nature, and requested nude photos. He also asked that the 17-year-old flash her breasts at him as he drove by so he could make sure no cops were involved.

Zeug was arrested after driving several laps around the home where the two were supposed to meet. When taken into custody, he had a police radio on him. The defendant was previously listed on the Walnut Grove city website as police chief, but as of Monday afternoon that posting had been taken down.

Walnut Grove City Clerk Paula McGarvey tells KARE 11 that at a special meeting Monday night, the city council decided to suspend Zeug without pay indefinitely.


Minneapolis cop faces charges of criminal sexual conduct

The officer faces two felony charges of criminal sexual conduct with a victim who was mentally impaired or helpless.


., Hennepin County Sheriff’s OfficeThomas Robert Tichich

A Minneapolis police officer is accused of felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting an unconscious woman with whom he was out drinking ealier that night.

A warrant was issued Wednesday for the arrest of Thomas Robert Tichich, the same day charges of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual were filed in Hennepin County District Court.

Tichich, 47, was booked into the Hennepin County jail about 1 a.m. Thursday ahead of a court appearance scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, jail records show. Tichich is on paid administrative leave from the department.

Bail was set at $50,000.

Tichich is accused of sexually assaulting a woman on the morning of Dec. 15 after they had been out drinking the night before, according the criminal complaint.

Tichich and the victim were with another woman who invited them to spend the night at her home in northeast Minneapolis to avoid driving drunk.

At the woman’s home, the victim passed out on a large living room couch. The woman went to sleep in an upstairs bedroom and told Tichich to sleep on a smaller living room couch. The woman woke up later to find Tichich in her bed touching her arm. The woman told Tichich to leave the room.

A while later, the woman, unable to sleep, went downstairs to find Tichich naked and standing over the victim sleeping on the large couch and attempting a sex act. She took photographs using her cellphone, then kicked Tichich out of her house and called police, the criminal complaint states.

When officers arrived, they used a “pressure point technique” to awaken the still-unconscious victim. The victim said she was confused and had not consented to anything sexual with Tichich, the complaint said.

The victim, who underwent a sexual assault examination, said she had not had any prior romantic or sexual history with Tichich and that a sexual encounter had not been discussed anytime that night or on any other occasion.

The next day, Tichich e-mailed the woman, apologizing for his drunkenness and asking if he had left his cellphone behind.

Tichich’s lawyer, Peter Wold, said his client, who was not on duty or representing himself as a police officer at the time, regrets any disrespect the case has brought on the Minneapolis Police Department, and that whatever happened was consensual.

“He is not pleading guilty,” Wold said. “They were single adults at a bar scene and there was nothing that was not consensual. Hopefully a jury will agree with that. We are anxious to move along and get this behind him.”

If convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, Tichich faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. The charges of fourth-degree carries a possible sentence of 10 years in jail and/or a fine of $20,000.


Six people file complaint after Minneapolis officer shoots into car during downtown brawl

The officer now faces an internal affairs investigation over his use of force.

Elizabeth Flores, Star TribuneChief Janee Harteau met with those involved after the incident.

Six people have filed formal complaints with the city after a Minneapolis police officer fired on their vehicle during a downtown scuffle last weekend.

The officer, who is now facing a standard internal affairs investigation, was responding to the scene of a large brawl near Target Field around bar close early Sunday that left two men with noncritical gunshot wounds, according to police. Amid the chaos, a car trying to back away struck the officer’s squad. He then fired one round, hitting the side of the vehicle with six people inside.

Neither the officer nor the passengers were injured in the incident, authorities said.

But activists and family members of those in the car that night condemned the officer’s actions as careless, contending that he put the four women and two men at risk.

Caylea Wade, the 23-year-old driver, was trying to leave the area with her friends after a night on the town, said her father, Lou Wade. An officer told the group to reverse the vehicle and return the way they came, he said, when a squad car approached from behind and the vehicles collided. A shot suddenly rang out, striking the driver’s side door, and the occupants were surrounded.

“They weren’t suspects. It’s unfortunate that they put my girl in harm’s way,” said Lou Wade, who met with Police Chief Janeé Harteau about the incident on Monday, where he said she apologized but offered few answers. “At the end of the day, we just can’t have police officers on the force like that. I think it’s negligence.”

A police spokesman confirmed that six people were in the vehicle that night, but declined to comment on whether they were detained or considered suspects, as an investigation is pending.

The chaos began just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 20, when police responded to a report that 30 to 40 people were fighting in the 400 block of 3rd Avenue N. At the scene, officers heard gunshots and found a man who had been shot in the ankle.

During that time, another man showed up at Hennepin County Medical Center after being shot in the arm. No arrests have been made.

Lou Wade said his daughter was detained for several hours because of the collision. Her car was impounded for four days before it was returned to the family with a bullet hole.

The Minneapolis NAACP demanded punishment for the officer involved in the “unnecessary and dangerous shooting,” said Jason Sole, NAACP chapter president. “What would have happened had one of the young passengers been wounded or killed?” Sole said in a statement.

The passengers, their family members and activists from advocacy groups like Black Lives Matter and the General Defense Committee, held a rally outside City Hall on Monday. The group filed complaints shortly after, Wade said, and the family plans to meet with Mayor Betsy Hodges this week.



Chief: St. Paul Officer Seen Kicking Man is No Longer Employed by SPPD

A St. Paul police officer who was seen on video kicking a black man during an incident in June is no longer employed by the St. Paul Police Department, Police Chief Todd Axtell said Monday.

Axtell said Brett Palkowitsch is no longer employed and that there is also a complaint and open investigation.

The news is in response to a dash cam video released Friday by St. Paul police showing an incident in which a black man was bitten by a K-9 and kicked by a police officer.

The incident happened just after 10 p.m. June 24 on the 1800 block of East Seventh Street in St. Paul.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, St. Paul Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Mike Ernster said police were responding to a fight involving a large group of people and were told one person had a gun.

Ernster said a K-9 officer apprehended a man, and other officers arrived at the scene. They told the man to keep his hands visible, but he either could not or would not comply, Ernster said.

One of the responding officers – identified as Palkowitsch – kicked the man in the ribs three times, police say.

The man was then handcuffed and found to be needing medical attention. He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he spent two weeks recovering.

The man’s attorney says the man had serious bites to his leg, multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Police say no gun was found on the man or in the surrounding scene.

In a Facebook message Friday morning, Police Chief Todd Axtell said he is “disappointed and upset” by what the video shows. The incident happened a day after he took office.

“When I became chief, I promised to do everything possible to ensure that the people we serve have faith in their police department,” Axtell said in his statement. “I want you all to know that the video does not reflect the way we strive to do our jobs — day in, day out. This is not the Saint Paul way.”

During the news conference, Axtell said releasing the video was “the right thing to do.”

“After this incident, I met with the man injured in the video while he was still in the hospital,” Axtell said. “At that time, I assured and promised him a full review was being conducted. I met with him again today in my office and offered my deepest apologies on behalf of the police department.”

Axtell said the K-9 officer, identified as Brian Ficcadenti, was suspended for 30 days even though a civilian review commission recommended 10 days. His suspension went into effect Thursday, Nov. 3.



Mpls. cop gets job back after being fired for violating use-of-force policy

A Minneapolis police officer who was fired for violating department policies on use of force is getting his job back.

Officer Blayne Lehner, an 18-year-veteran of the force, challenged his firing and took his grievance in front of a mediator. Earlier this month, the arbitrator of the dispute, Stephen F. Befort, reduced Lehner’s punishment from termination to a 40-hour suspension without pay.

Befort also ordered the city to compensate Lehner for the time he was off the force.

The incident that led to Lehner’s termination occurred in August of 2014. According to the arbitration proceedings, Lehner and his partner responded to a domestic disturbance call in an apartment building. There they found two women, who were apparently romantic partners, yelling at each other.

During the arbitration hearing, Lehner testified that one of the women was “out of control” and “intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and prescription medicine.” And he testified that the woman was disobeying orders to stay away from her partner.

• In January: Officer Lehner fired after unspecified complaint

City officials say Lehner pushed the woman twice, which was not warranted because they contended she posed no threat to the officers or others. City officials said Lehner violated department policy by not immediately reporting that use of force and they alleged that Lehner violated the department’s code of conduct by calling the woman the “c” word.

Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau
Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau Brandt Williams | MPR News 2015 file

The apartment building manager saw video of the incident and later filed a complaint with the Office of Police Conduct Review, or OPCR, according to the arbitrator’s ruling. The review panel, made up of two citizens and two police lieutenants, found merit in the complaint allegations.

The city placed Lehner on administrative leave in September of 2015. Lehner made his case against the allegations in front of a discipline panel made up of high ranking officers later that fall. Police chief Janee Harteau agreed with the panel’s conclusion that Lehner be fired.

Harteau wrote in a January 2016 memo that officer Lehner’s actions went against the department’s core values, according to the arbitration ruling.

“Public trust and procedural justice is vital in our ability to effectively protect and serve, and as a result I have lost all confidence in Officer Lehner’s ability to serve the citizens of Minneapolis due to his poor judgment and his lack of integrity,” wrote Harteau.

Police union officials argued that Harteau’s decision to fire Lehner was too harsh. Lehner’s attorney Kevin Beck argued that Lehner’s use of force was not excessive, according to the arbitration ruling.

After this story was initially published, Harteau sent the following statement: “I am disappointed in the arbitrator’s decision. These rulings hinder my ability, as a Police Chief, to create an effective culture of accountability within the Department.”

Police federation president Bob Kroll
Police federation president Bob Kroll Regina McCombs | MPR News 2015 file

He also contended that Lehner had no duty to report the use of force because the pushing was not considered a takedown technique. The union also found no evidence to support a finding that Lehner called the woman by a vulgar name.

Police union president Lt. Bob Kroll said he’s not sure when Lehner will be back on the force, but said he’s looking forward to it.

“He’s an excellent cop,” said Kroll. “He’s an extremely hard worker and he serves the city well.”

Kroll estimates the city owes Lehner about $40,000. However, Kroll said that amount will be reduced by the amount of money Lehner earned working after he was fired. That’s part of labor law, Kroll said, but he thinks that’s unfair to Lehner.

“You’re a guy that goes out and tries to do well and make good for his family and they want to penalize him for it,” said Kroll. “I don’t like that aspect of it, but that is the rule of law.”

Kroll said it was also not fair for the chief to terminate Lehner for actions that he claims other officers have done without being fired. And he said he’s noticed how officer complaints about discipline ebb and flow.

“When a chief is new, they want to make their own rules and they don’t realize that past practice prevails so you tend to have a lot of grievances,” said Kroll.

He said chiefs have to provide more notice to officers that things will be different under their watch.

“Yes, they can rightfully claim that there have been many other officers who’ve done this and not been fired,” said Dave Bicking, a former board member of the now defunct Civilian Review Authority and a member of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “And that is the problem.”

Bicking said he’d like to see more consistency in discipline for officers, but the punishments should be more strict. He points to statistics from the OPCR, which he believes show the civilian review system is broken.

Since the new civilian complaint system was implemented in 2012, more than 1,000 complaints have been filed. Harteau has issued 15 suspensions, 11 letters of reprimand, three terminations and one demotion during that time.

Lehner has also been the subject of dozens of civilian and internal affairs complaints.

City records show that since 2000, more than 30 complaint investigations have been opened against Lehner. The vast majority of investigations were closed with no discipline. One case from 2014 with the Office of Police Conduct Review is still open. Records show Lehner was suspended twice in 2013. However, the reasons for the discipline were not listed. Lehner was also issued two letters of reprimand in 2012.

In 2015, Lehner was sued by a man who claimed the officer kicked him in the face, breaking a few of his teeth and causing him to briefly lose consciousness. In a rare move, the city decided not to defend Lehner. However, the city later settled the case for $360,000.

To Bicking, the fact that an officer with Lehner’s history can be reinstated on the force is a sign that the police union has too much power.

“I don’t think there’s any other union in Minneapolis — Minneapolis public employees — that would be able to get a person’s job back after they cost the city hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, for instance,” said Bicking.

• Related: Advocates say Minneapolis cops should face financial cost of misconduct

But fired officers don’t always get their jobs back.

In 2013, Harteau fired officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell after members of the Green Bay police department notified her about the officers’ behavior while they were visiting the city on vacation.

Thole and Powell acted belligerently towards the officers and used racial slurs about some black men they confronted on the street, according to Green Bay police.

As military veterans, Thole and Powell were eligible for a veteran’s preference hearing to challenge their terminations. During that hearing, their attorney Gregg Corwin argued that other officers had engaged in similar acts and were not fired. However, the three-member Civil Service panel agreed with Harteau’s decision to fire the officers.


Off-duty Elko-New Market police officer arrested for DWI


– An Elko-New Market police officer has been arrested for drunken driving. She is still on the job, pending the outcome of the case.

But it’s not the first time this small police department in the south metro has made headlines.

In the small towns of Elko and New Market, they know their cops, all five of them. Officer Eva Rudolph is one of the favorites.

“Very personable, likes to talk about what you are doing. Just a wonderful woman,” said Mandy Fischer of New Market.

Officer Eve Rudolph has been a trailblazer in law enforcement for 30 years and a role model for many women in the field.  For the last six years, she’s been an officer in Elko-New Market and even served as the interim police chief.

A month ago tonight, while off-duty, she was pulled over by State Patrol in McLeod County for driving erratically.  She blew a 0.16, which is twice the legal limit.

The chief and city administrator told Fox 9 she had a clean record with the department.

The police chief says he found out about the incident when Officer Rudolph called him up.  She works part-time, pulling about four shifts a month.

Rudolph was the first female officer in Apple Valley and also the department’s first K-9 officer.  She retired two years ago.

For a couple of years, she was even the interim chief of the Elko-New Market Police Department, during a rough patch.

The department was shut down temporarily after a Fox 9 investigation into racism within the department.  A former officer had placed a stuffed monkey in a squad car and there was a trail of racist emails.

The trouble for this small town department seemed behind them, until their favorite cop got arrested.

“Very surprised why, [she] seems to carry out duties very well, just shocked,” said Fischer.

Rudolph has not been charged yet with drunken driving, but is currently required to use an intoxilyzer when driving her personal car. She does not, however, need to use an intoxilyzer when driving her squad car.



Aftermath of fatal Falcon Heights officer-involved shooting captured on video

A man identified by relatives as Philando Castile, 32, a St. Paul schools employee, died Wednesday night at Hennepin County Medical Center. The police-involved shooting followed a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

By Pat Pheifer and Claude Peck Star Tribune

July 7, 2016 — 10:43am

Richard Tsong-Taatarii – Star Tribune

Gallery: Gov. Mark Dayton made his way to the front gate of the mansion to meet family members including, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds and her daughter. He told Valerie, “we will give him justice.

A St. Paul man died Wednesday night after being shot by police in Falcon Heights, the immediate aftermath of which was shown in a video recorded by the man’s girlfriend as she sat next to him and which was widely shared on Facebook.

The girlfriend started the live-stream video with the man in the driver’s seat slumped next to her, his white T-shirt soaked with blood on the left side. In the video, taken with her phone, she says they were pulled over at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street for a broken taillight.

The “police shot him for no apparent reason, no reason at all,” she says.

Friends at the scene identified the man as Philando Castile, 32, cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul.

Castile’s cousin said on her Facebook page that he was dead. Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, who was at Hennepin County Medical Center with other family members, said Philando died at 9:37 p.m., a few minutes after arriving at the hospital.

The video was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Lavish Reynolds, but it’s not clear if it is the girlfriend’s page or whether she sent the video to someone else to post. Reynolds’ page was not available for a time, but by then copies of the video had been shared many times

A Facebook spokesperson said the video was temporarily down due to a technical glitch and was restored to the Lavish Reynolds page as soon as Facebook was able to investigate. “We’re very sorry that the video was temporarily inaccessible,” the spokesperson said via email.

The girlfriend said on the video that the officer “asked him for license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet, but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry. The officer said don’t move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”

The video shows a uniformed police officer holding a pistol on the couple from outside the car. The officer can be heard to say, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”

The girlfriend says in the video that her boyfriend was shot by a Roseville police officer.

St. Anthony police Sgt. Jon Mangseth, who is the interim police chief, told reporters at the scene that the primary officer who initiated the traffic stop and the backup officer who responded were St. Anthony police officers.

Castile was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. The woman and a child in the car with him were taken to another police agency and were being interviewed, Mangseth said.

St. Anthony police issued a news release after midnight, confirming that a man was shot by one of its officers about 9 p.m. and had later died. “A handgun was recovered from the scene,” the news release said. It said little else except that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will lead the investigation.

Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle, said his nephew had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids.” He said his nephew was “a good kid” who grew up in St. Paul and also lived in Minneapolis for a time.

He said Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, 60, was inside the hospital and had “broken down” over the death of her only son.

He said Philando had left his home about two hours before the shooting occurred. “My nephew was killed by the police” without doing anything wrong, he said.

About 12:35 a.m. Thursday, Valerie Castile and her daughter emerged from the HCMC emergency room to the waiting arms of friends and family members. “They killed my son,” Valerie Castile said, sobbing. “They took a good man, a hard-working man; he worked since he was 18 years old.”

Philando’s sister, who was also crying, said, “They killed my brother. They held a gun on him  while he was hurting, and did nothing to help him.”

Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, was also at HCMC. Johnson said Philando graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School, where he was a straight-A student.

He was “a black individual driving in Falcon Heights who was immediately criminally profiled and he lost his life over it tonight,” Johnson said.

He said Philando was “very nonconfrontational,” “a real upstanding citizen,” and “by the book.”

Leila Navidi, Star Tribune

A car is towed away from the scene after Philando Castile was fatally shot in Falcon Heights.

Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on Philando Castile’s record.

Valerie Castile told CNN Thursday that she had instructed her son to always “comply” if he was ever stopped by law enforcement.

She said her son didn’t deserve “to be shot down like this.” He was just “black in the wrong place” and was a victim of “a silent war against African American people,” she said.

About 2 a.m., Castile’s relatives and friends held a prayer circle outside Hennepin County Medical Center. Several family members, including Valerie Castile. then walked to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office in an attempt to see Philando’s body. Staffers there would not let them, said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, who accompanied them.

Valerie Castile told CNN she’s angry that officials wouldn’t let her identify her son’s body and that she will have to wait until after the autopsy to see him.

“The family has a number of concerns about what happened in this case,” Levy-Pounds said. “They do not believe that the shooting was warranted in this case. Philando Castile was an upstanding citizen, according to all the reports that we’ve heard.”

The medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy later Thursday.

Levy-Pounds said an independent body should be appointed to investigate the shooting, citing skepticism with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which would normally conduct such a probe. She expressed similar concerns about the objectivity of a federal investigation but said her organization will ask for one.

“We’re demanding justice; we’re demanding accountability,” Levy-Pounds said. “We’re demanding a change to our laws and policies that allow these types of things to happen. Too often officers are taught to shoot first and ask questions last, and that’s completely unacceptable.”


Philando Castile was fatally shot by police July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

‘Knew something was wrong’

Katherine Bleth, who lives across the street from the shooting scene, said she was driving home with a friend when she saw the crime scene “right in front of me.”

“Cop cars were rushing past us; we knew something was wrong,” she said.

She saw and videotaped an officer performing CPR on a man lying just outside the driver’s side door of the car, then saw paramedics put the man on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance.

“What I see is all my neighbors standing outside, videotaping and very upset,” she said. She said there were 12 to 15 squad cars, including some Roseville officers.

Falcon Heights, MN: Cop pulled over & shot black man. Brought to hospital. Upsetting footage. Across from my apt. pic.twitter.com/fgRczvxEMK

— skeletal trash lord (@skeletontrash) July 7, 2016

A 28-year-old nursing student who declined to be named said she was sitting in the parking lot of a nearby apartment building and saw the scene unfold. It was around 9 p.m., she said, when the car was pulled over.

Photo from Facebook video

A scene from the video posted by a woman in which she described her boyfriend’s shooting by police Wednesday night in Falcon Heights.

“I just heard the officer say, ‘Put your hands up,’ and before he finished saying that there were four shots,” the woman said.

The 10-minute video shows the girlfriend being ordered from her car by several officers, one of whom is holding a child, presumed to be the girlfriend’s 7-year-old daughter. The woman was put in the back of a squad car in handcuffs.

“Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone,” the girlfriend pleads in the video. “He don’t deserve this, please. He works for St. Paul Public Schools. He’s never been in jail, anything. He’s not a gang member, anything.”

Mangseth said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” he said. “As this unfolds, we will release the information as we learn it and we will address concerns as we are made aware of them. I don’t have a lot of details right now.”

Mangseth said there hasn’t been an officer-involved shooting in the St. Anthony Police Department’s coverage area “for 30 years.”

“It’s shocking,” he said. “It’s not something that occurs here in our area.”

By 12:30 a.m. Thursday, dozens of people — peaceful but visibly angry — had gathered at the scene in Falcon Heights. Some were chanting anti-police slogans.

Later, people protesting the fatal shooting arrived at the governor’s residence in St. Paul. According to a livestream by the independent news website Unicorn Riot, dozens of protesters gathered on Summit Avenue at 2 a.m.

They chanted “No Justice, No Peace,” while car horns sounded. The group, estimated to be about 100 people, also yelled, “Shut it down!” along with the names of Castile and Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed in November in a struggle with Minneapolis police.

Shouts of “Wake up!” also were heard, along with demands that Gov. Mark Dayton come out and speak with them.

Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin issued a statement calling the shooting “senseless violence that is all too common to a select group of our country.”

“We’re not going to stand apart and allow this violence to continue because it happened in Baton Rouge or somewhere else. We’re going to make the changes that need to be made and finally put  a stop to this,” he said.

Staff writers Libor Jany and Andy Mannix contributed to this report.