City raises questions of ‘hearsay’ and ‘trustworthiness’ in criticism of DOJ investigation into Minneapolis Police

City of Minneapolis criticizes DOJ report on MPD

City of Minneapolis criticizes DOJ report on MPD

The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office is criticizing how the Department of Justice arrived at one of its key findings in a two-year investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). 

The DOJ’s conclusion that MPD officers “regularly” retaliate against people for using their First Amendment rights is challenged in a memo filed in federal court by City Attorney Kristyn Anderson’s office last Friday.

Lawyers for the city argue that the DOJ’s report should not be allowed as evidence in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Jared Goyette and other journalists who say they were attacked by law enforcement during coverage of the protests after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. 

“The DOJ merely concludes that the MPD ‘regularly’ violates First Amendment rights without defining what ‘regularly’ means nor quantifying how many of each type of violation was observed,” the memo says. 

The City Attorney’s Office also claims that the DOJ never interviewed any attorneys representing the City of Minneapolis in litigation involving First Amendment matters. 

“This detracts from the report’s trustworthiness as evidence in this case,” the memo says. 

The City Attorney’s Office declined an interview request from 5 INVESTIGATES but denied criticizing the DOJ’s report and said in a statement Wednesday that it “acknowledges and respects the DOJ’s work in its report.” 

The City acknowledges and respects the DOJ’s work in its report, agrees that the DOJ’s findings raise issues of great importance, and agrees to continue to implement significant changes to address issues raised in the report. The brief the City filed in response to the Goyette case did not raise the question of whether the report is trustworthy in the usual sense of the word, rather it raised the question of whether the report is admissible under an exception to the hearsay evidence rule, and the “trustworthiness” of the report is a legal test under the rules of evidence analyzing the report from an evidentiary perspective—in other words, whether it meets specific requirements relating to admissibility for the plaintiffs’ specific purposes in that particular case.

City of Minneapolis spokesperson

The memo is also critical of the “methodology” of the DOJ’s investigation and the fact that the final report released last month does not name the specific members of the Justice Department involved in carrying out the review of MPD. 

“There is no individual to cross-examine… there is not a list of videos watched, or specific individuals from whom information was gathered,” the memo says. 

The City Attorney’s Office also challenged part of a report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights last year which found a “pattern and practice” of discriminatory policing by MPD. 

Although the city eventually reached a settlement agreement, it continues to dispute an MDHR finding that Minneapolis Police officers used covert social media accounts to target Black leaders.

The city has an agreement in principle with the DOJ that’s expected to lead to a consent decree allowing federal oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department.