Myon Burrell defense files motion to suppress evidence, says police lacked probable cause to stop, search vehicle

Attorneys for Myon Burrell, a 37-year-old man who had his murder conviction commuted in 2020, say that a Robbinsdale police officer “lacked the requisite articulable suspicion of criminal activity” to make a traffic stop that resulted in Burrell’s arrest in September.

The criminal complaint states the officer saw an SUV driven by Burrell speeding and weaving in between lanes before the officer initiated the traffic stop. The complaint says that “smoke appeared to billow out” when Burrell rolled the window down and the officer smelled and saw the remnant of burnt marijuana in the SUV.

The officer then searched the SUV and reportedly found a Glock 17 9mm handgun and a backpack with marijuana, 21 capsules of methamphetamine and 16 ecstasy pills inside.

As a prohibited person convicted of murder, Burrell isn’t eligible to possess firearms and faces up to 15 years in prison in addition to five years for possession of narcotics.

The defense filing disputes the officer’s version of events, referencing “an imaginary cloud of smoke that allegedly came from inside the vehicle” and saying that video of the traffic stop showed Burrell’s SUV “never crosses the lane lines”.

The motion then claims the officer exceeded the proper scope and duration of the stop and that the evidence recovered during the search, including the handgun and drugs found inside the SUV, must be suppressed.

RELATED: Burrell charged with gun and drug possession

A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court said that the smell of marijuana, by itself, is not enough to authorize vehicle searches.

Driving while high on marijuana is still illegal.

The complaint states the officer noticed signs of intoxication in field sobriety tests, and then told Burrell he was going to look in the SUV for marijuana. Burrell said the officer didn’t have permission and started walking away when the officer said he needed to sit in the back of the squad. Burrell was then put in handcuffs and placed in the squad.

The charges were filed by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, which is handling the case for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to avoid any conflict of interest since Burrell was a paid staffer on Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s campaign.

Burrell was sentenced for the 2002 killing of an 11-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a stray bullet while doing homework at her dining room table.

Burrell was 16 years old at the time and was sentenced to life in prison before having his sentence commuted to 20 years by the Minnesota Board of Pardons with the remaining two years to be served on supervised release. They denied granting him a full pardon, meaning he is still legally a convicted murderer.

The high-profile case was prosecuted by Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was a Hennepin County attorney at the time. She later pointed to the case as an example of her tough-on-crime record while unsuccessfully running for president.

RELATED: Protesters advocating for release of Myon Burrell close down Klobuchar campaign rally

Years later, an investigation led by American Public Media uncovered several inconsistencies in the case, including recanted statements and conflicting accounts around the shooting. Prosecutors also lacked physical evidence, with no gun, DNA or fingerprints to tie Burrell to the shooting.

Related coverage of the Myon Burrell case can be found below:

Hennepin County Attorney’s Office offering to reduce Burrell sentence

Imprisoned for life as a teen, Myon Burrell finds his voice

Stepfather of slain girl fears teen prosecuted by Klobuchar was wrongfully convicted