In testimony offered last fall under immunity from prosecution, Hutchinson police officer Karl Willers admitted to giving people pot while he was in Minneapolis for Drug Recognition Expert program training in 2012.
SEE ALSO: The City Pages' DRE scandal series
Given that other officers testified they saw both Willers and his brother Kenneth use free pot to entice people to participate in the DRE program, that revelation might not come as a surprise. But Willers also said he twice saw his partner give someone money to buy crack, then watched as the person smoked it in the back of a squad car.
[jump] Not a single cop involved in the DRE scandal -- including Willers -- has been charged with a crime. Following last year's fiasco, Minnesota law enforcement officers now receive DRE training in California.
News of Willers's previously undisclosed testimony was broken thanks to a Star Tribune open records request for a report detailing what Willers told Hutchinson PD investigators during an internal investigation into his conduct. Here's an excerpt of the Strib's piece:
Willers... also told his department that between 30 and 40 percent of his training class distributed narcotics in order to perform observations, and that a coordinator of the program told them to get rid of the drugs after the allegations went public...Following his admission, Willers was suspended from the Hutchinson Police Department without pay for four weeks, with two of them stayed if he completed an ethics course and made a presentation to his colleagues.
Willers said his partner twice gave someone money to buy crack, which was smoked in the back of a squad car. Willers said he called a friend's "pot head" brother and told him to get high with others so the officers could perform evaluations...
No training instructors told them to distribute marijuana, but past participants in the class said or implied that it was OK, according to Willers' statement. He said he agreed with statements made by others during the criminal investigation that the program's instructions were vague on how to find test subjects. When the YouTube video was released, Willers and his partner reported it to a coordinator of the program, who "told them to make the marijuana disappear," according to the report...
Prosecutors cannot use Willers' October admission because he gave it after receiving a "Garrity Warning," which prevents compelled public employee statements from being used in criminal proceedings. Garrity Warnings are commonly used in internal affairs investigations, since officers risk being fired if they do not make a statement.
Meanwhile, in an email to the Strib, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon, referring to prosecutors' decision not to file any charges in connection with the DRE scandal, wrote, "there was not enough evidence to support charges." Last fall, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office intimated that even if they forged ahead with charges against Willers and other officers who allegedly supplied drugs while training in Minneapolis, they'd likely only face petty misdemeanors since they didn't receive money for the ganja.
But if nothing else, the latest revelations will bolster the case of Occupy Minneapolis protesters who have sued cops for designing and implementing "a pernicious human research experiment exposing young people from minority and/or disadvantaged backgrounds to various illegal drugs in an effort use these individuals as human guinea pigs for the benefit of law enforcement."
Until now, attorneys representing officers have refused to concede that some officers supplied DRE subjects with drugs. That position, however, will be harder to maintain in light of Willers's testimony.
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