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Metro Gang Strike Force gets off scot free

After years of controversy, the saga of Minnesota's scandal-riddled gang-combating task force is about to come to an anti-climactic finish.

The U.S. Department of Justice has declined to level anymore federal charges against members of the Metro Gang Strike Force, which means the FBI is moving on, says Steve Warfield, spokesman for the FBI.

"We're closing our investigation," says Warfield.

In summer 2009, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion shut down the multi-jurisdictional collective following widespread allegations of misconduct.

"The Metro Gang Strike Force is done," Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek told reporters just before Campion officially pulled the plug. "Not because I say so, but because no one has any trust in the Metro Gang Strike Force now or in the future. Ask the average person and they get it. There's no credibility."

In 2010, the Justice Department indicted Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen -- who served on the strike force -- with kicking a kid in the head, though a jury found him not guilty.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced last year that his office wouldn't be filing any charges, largely due to a "disorganized" and "substandard" investigation.

Civil suits stemming from accusations against the task force have been more successful, however. Last summer, the task force agreed to a $3 million settlement in a class-action suit. Most of the money was paid to people who claimed they were falsely imprisoned and assaulted.

The FBI submitted its findings to the Justice Department about nine months ago, says Warfield. The report didn't make a recommendation on charges, he says. "We just give them the facts."

When asked if he cared to comment on the Justice Department's decision not to file charges, Warfield declined.

"It is what it is," he says.

Previous Coverage:

  • Metro Gang Strike Force criminal probe yields no charges
  • Metro Gang Strike Force corruption means $3M for victims
  • Minneapolis's Metro Gang Strike Force strikes out
  • Jason Andersen, who shot Fong Lee, has his job back at MPD

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