DRE officer on Peavey Plaza: "We gotta get outta here... something's not right"
Peavey Plaza was initially where DRE officers found many of their subjects. That changed after cameras started rolling.
-- This is the last in a series of five snapshots from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's lengthy investigation into officer misconduct associated with the state patrol's Drug Recognition Expert program. For background reading, see chronology of City Pages' coverage at the bottom of this post --
The video that pulled back the curtain on the DRE scandal was uploaded to YouTube on May 2, while this spring's DRE training was ongoing. That video, of course, featured allegations from Occupy protesters based in Peavey Plaza that DRE officers were giving them pot in return for volunteering as subjects.
THE CITY PAGES' DRE SERIES:
-- DRE officers blackmailed subjects: 'When you come up to DRE school your morals are gone' [PART FOUR]
-- DRE officer on finding drug-using subjects: We went to "shitty areas" like Franklin Ave. [PART THREE]
-- DRE 'victims' to file civil lawsuit against alleged pot-distributing officers [PART TWO]
-- DRE officer: "I don't know what the big deal is I just gave them marijuana" [PART ONE]
As detailed by the BCA report, production of the video, followed by all the publicity it received, quickly made Peavey Plaza a no-go zone for DRE trainees.
During his interview with investigators, Fillmore County deputy Michael Hadland describes the scene at Peavey Plaza on April 27, while the video was being shot.
[W]hen we were walking I started seeing cameras following us everywhere and it just kinda made ya uneasy you knew something was up and that's when I told Bryce [i.e., Hadland's partner] I says we gotta get outta here I said cuz something's not right. Well and that's when we got back to the car and a bunch of people come up and I don't know who the guy was, he was a talking to Bryce about um that officers are giving people drugs and everything like that and I know for a fact that me and Bryce never gave anybody drugs, never paid for anybody's drugs or anything like that...
And then I told him then we gotta get outta here. And I even, I even you know I told him on camera you can, you can watch the video that we're not here to cause problems I don't care what they're doing you know I, I actually threw the F bomb out there and I already told my supervisor that I did swear but um that we're up there to try to get evals for a class, we're not up there I don't care what they're occupying or anything like that.
Hadland and his partner then informed their fellow trainees about how perilous working at Peavey had become, as indicated by the testimony of Sergeant Rick Munoz, the State Patrol's DRE program boss.
During his interview with investigators, Munoz said he ordered officers to stay away from Peavey after it became apparent cameras were rolling:
There was a Dakota County Deputy and a Fillmore County Deputy that had gone to the occupy ah Shanky and Hadland were their names and ah they had gone to the occupy area to ah find some volunteers and were immediately confronted by these protester guys running up to their car and basically saying you know, hey I want to go do this thing and asking questions about the program and I think some of it's even on that video that came out um and they, they started asking there were questions about the program and Deputy Shanky eh he answered 'em appropriately and then they came back and after that conversation with the occupy folks they came back and told us at the ss, at the report writing area that you know they just got basically bombarded by these guys and confronted started getting a thousand questions and, and they said you know I said these guys are gonna shady or weird I said you know stay out, stay away from the area. I said we don't you know need people and then in, hindsight thinking you know probably not the best place to go for people but ah, but if well if they're gonna start asking questions, confronting us and if they obviously were showing they were clearly video recording and you know I said well you don't want to be in, the video recording stuff so I says no more of that.
But as the testimony of Worthington officer Joshua Mccuen makes clear, some trainees didn't have to be told twice to stay away from Peavey after it became clear activists and protesters were working on some sort of video project.
Mccuen said he and his partner went downtown looking for subjects "but we never made it down to where the protesters were."
"I don't trust protesters... I know it's not a big deal if they [video] record but that just, I'm not there to be recorded so I just wanted to get my job done and move on," he told investigators.
The allegations outlined in the YouTube video were one of the main factors that prompted the BCA's criminal investigation. That investigation resulted in the suspension of the DRE program but no criminal charges, in part because many of the officers involved refused to testify.
"This is no different than many of the gang cases we have where the gang members won't testify," [Hennepin County Attorney's office spokesman Chuck Laszewski] said. "In those type of cases and in this particular case we can only charge and bring a case to a jury where we have sufficient admissible evidence."
Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, a persistent critic of police misconduct, defended the right of officers to refuse to talk.
"Police are citizens and entitled to the protection of the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, just as anyone accused of [a] crime," he said.
If DRE training is offered again down the line, BCA investigators suggested instructors provide clearer direction and better oversight to trainees. One specific recommendation provided by the BCA is to let trainees know that giving marijuana to potential subjects is "absolutely prohibited."
DRE SCANDAL BACKGROUND READING (EARLIEST TO MOST RECENT):
-- Minnesota police giving Peavey Plaza Occupy-ers drugs as part of impairment study, report says [VIDEO]
-- State Patrol "looking into" Occupy drug allegations; Mpls police claim no involvement
-- State Patrol: "No evidence" officers gave Occupy-ers drugs
-- Police did indeed give Occupiers free pot, new evidence suggests; DRE program suspended
-- DRE drug scandal: City of Minneapolis denies involvement as outstate officers take heat
-- Dan Feidt, producer of DRE drug scandal video, talks about Occupy, police, and the war on drugs
-- Sgt. Rick Munoz, DRE program boss, is pretty much the biggest jerk ever
-- DRE drug scandal: No criminal charges for alleged dope-distributing officers
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