Updated: June 30, 2021 10:37 PM
Created: June 30, 2021 05:57 PM
The investigation into a deadly Minneapolis Police shooting from nearly a decade ago may soon be reopened over concerns that some evidence in the case may have been overlooked.
5 INVESTIGATES obtained the letter sent by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, suggesting state investigators take another look at the fatal shooting of Terrance Franklin in May of 2013.
At the time, MPD investigated its own deadly shootings. The agency cleared the five officers involved in Franklin’s death of any wrongdoing and a grand jury did not bring any charges against Lucas Peterson, the officer who pulled the trigger.
But Freeman’s office believes evidence presented during the family’s civil case — that the city settled for nearly $800,000 last year — deserves another look by an agency other than Minneapolis Police.
One of the key pieces of evidence in that lawsuit is a video recording taken by Jimmy Gaines, who was next door when officers stormed into the south Minneapolis home that Franklin had broken into while running from police.
5 INVESTIGATES first reported on the Gaines video earlier this year while investigating the serious concerns about the credibility of the officer who pulled the trigger.
The official version of events from police is that Franklin was being combative in the basement, had grabbed for one of the officers’ guns and fired first, injuring two officers.
But according to an audio forensic expert hired by the family, an enhanced version of the recording raises questions about the officers’ version of events.
“We started to hear things … that were conflicting to the police reports, and that's when I knew we had something that was going to be purposeful,” said Ed Primeau of Primeau Forensics outside of Detroit.
In fact, a federal judge in the family’s lawsuit wrote in a 2016 ruling that the recording raised questions about the “sequence of events leading to the deadly force used against Franklin.”
Freeman said in his letter to the BCA that the recording, along with other evidence and filings in the family’s case, “raised issues about the thoroughness of the police investigation.”
Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who was in office at the time of the Franklin shooting, believes having another agency take another look is the appropriate step to take.
“Sometimes when you have these critical incidents, there are always questions raised by the public. In this case, there were no witnesses outside of the officers involved in the shooting itself,” he said.
In the wake of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict, the Minneapolis Police Department is facing more scrutiny, including from the U.S. Department of Justice, which just launched a sweeping investigation into the department’s use of force.
But it’s unclear why Freeman is suddenly taking interest in evidence that was presented in court years ago.
Fred Bruno, an attorney representing Lucas Peterson, describes it as “shifting politics.”
“The Gaines video was well known to and vetted by Freeman’s office long before the grand jury ruled in September 2013,” Bruno said in a statement to 5 INVESTIGATES. “There is no new evidence, only newly procured opinions and shifting politics.”
Bruno applauded his client's actions, saying that Peterson saved five lives that day in the basement.
But if investigators do decide to reopen the case, it may lead to more questions about Peterson’s credibility.
5 INVESTIGATES previously reported that years before the Franklin case, surveillance video showed Peterson fabricated a criminal charge against a woman during a traffic stop.
Peterson tried to explain the discrepancy during a video deposition obtained by 5 INVESTIGATES.
“My perception at the time of the incident led me to believe that I observed this Nancy Johnson grab my partner from behind,” he said. “And then when the video surfaced it showed that not to be the case.”
The city of Minneapolis also paid $100,000 to settle that case after a federal judge determined Peterson wrote a report that was “at best a completely inaccurate representation.”
Now it’s a different video, in a different case that is raising similar questions.
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