Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has suggested that in light of evidence not previously taken into consideration, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension should review the 2013 killing of Terrance Franklin by Minneapolis police.
Franklin’s family has long maintained that the 22-year-old surrendered to police when they found him hiding in a Minneapolis basement, but police said he fought violently and used one of the officers’ weapons to shoot and injure two of them before they returned lethal fire.
A grand jury concluded at the time that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the officers. An internal investigation by Minneapolis police also cleared them of wrongdoing.
Freeman, citing an investigation by the Franklin family’s attorney, said audio pulled from a witness video and a new explanation for how Franklin’s DNA ended up on an officer’s weapon were among reasons for a fresh look.
“Our office reviewed the new evidence that was not available to us at the time we took the case to the grand jury,” Freeman’s office said Friday in a statement. “As a result, we sent a letter in early May to the [BCA] suggesting they should consider doing a new investigation.”
A BCA spokesman confirmed that that agency has received and is evaluating Freeman’s request. A spokesperson for the city of Minneapolis declined to comment.
It was Police Department policy at the time of Franklin’s death to investigate police shootings in-house. That changed after his death, and such cases are now sent to an outside agency. No video of the confrontation exists because Minneapolis officers weren’t required to wear body cameras at the time. It was Franklin’s death that former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges cited in fall 2013 when she argued for cameras’ implementation.
Franklin was shot to death on May 10, 2013, in the basement of a house in the Uptown neighborhood after a 91-minute manhunt. He was wanted that day for questioning in a burglary from several days earlier, but when police found him sitting in a car in a parking lot he drove off, striking an open squad car door as he left.
He eventually abandoned the car and fled on foot, hiding at one point in an Uptown bike shop and eventually breaking into an empty house. He was alone in the basement when first a police canine and then five officers went down the stairs to confront him. The officers said Franklin fought with the police dog and then struggled with them, grabbing the MP5 rifle held by one of the officers and pulling the trigger. Two officers were shot in the legs and injured.
A lawsuit brought by the family against Minneapolis police was settled last year for $795,000. The family’s evidence includes a video shot by Minneapolis resident Jimmy Gaines, who was across the street from the home in the 2700 block of S. Bryant Avenue when police found Franklin there. The video was widely published in 2013, and family attorney Michael Padden said police could be heard using a racial slur. A week after the grand jury absolved the officers, the family told the Star Tribune they could hear Franklin on the Gaines video pleading for his life.
A forensic analysis of the audio captured on that recording suggested that police held Franklin for more than a minute before he was shot, a glaring contradiction of the police account, the family argued in its lawsuit. The police never interviewed Gaines, they added.
The family also said that Franklin’s DNA could have ended up on the MP5 rifle after an officer first touched his neck to check for a pulse, and then was handed the rifle.
Padden eventually compiled a book on the case, which he published last fall. “I’m hopeful that whoever investigates this case will do it objectively,” he said Friday. “The world is certainly a lot different now than it was in 2013 in terms of how the public perceives law enforcement as a whole.”
Padden’s investigation was the basis for a story in Time magazine this week in which Freeman was first quoted saying he thought the Franklin family’s evidence warranted reopening the case.
In a May 4 letter to BCA Supt. Drew Evans that was shared with Time, Freeman said: “There is a great deal more information in the lawsuit papers. My question to you is, has anyone made you aware of any of this information, either in 2013 or more recently? I understand that the BCA’s newly created Use-of-Force unit is willing to review cases that were not originally investigated by the BCA. This might be an appropriate case for the unit to review.”