Metro Gang Strike Force criminal probe yields no charges

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said today that there will be not a single criminal charge filed in the wake of his investigation into the now-disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force.

He says his probe was stymied at every turn by its subjects, 29 of whom wouldn't cooperate. And it was hobbled by shoddy work practices, including shredded documents and worthless cataloging of evidence.

As a result, the investigation "did not produce sufficient legally admissible evidence to charge any individual with any state crime."

"This was a difficult investigation, posing significant challenges. Among those challenges were the disorganized, incomplete, haphazard, substandard, and at times inaccurate record keeping, evidence handling, and evidence disposal practices of the MGSF. The challenge posed by the failure to routinely follow the most basic record keeping and evidence handling practices, was compounded by the refusal of certain MGSF members, including its Commander, to speak with investigators. These failures do a great disservice to all who served on the MGSF, to the law enforcement community, and ultimately to the public."

Of the 73 former officers and employees interviewed:

Several of those 29 stated that they simply had nothing to offer, while 6 based their refusal to be interviewed upon the advice of counsel. A reason for non-cooperation expressed by many others was either anger or paranoia created by what they believed to have been unfair and unwarranted allegations of misconduct.

No one should be surprised, considering the mountain of corruption and incompetence detailed in last year's report on the unit by the Department of Public Safety.

By the time public safety commissioner Michael Campion shut it down last year, it had zero credibility.

Freeman's announcement today, and his accompanying report, mean that just one Strike Force member has been prosecuted: Jason Andersen.

The MPD officer was indicted in August by a federal grand jury on felony civil rights charges, accused of kicking a teenager in the head during an arrest in 2008 while he was a member of the Metro Gang Strike Force.

Meanwhile, lawyers for victims of the task force have reached a $3 million settlement to help cover a range of a claims, including assault and false imprisonment.

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