MPD Chief Harteau on Terrence Franklin shooting: His actions "dictated the outcome"
Harteau: "I fully support the actions of my officers and agree with the decision of the grand jury."
Shortly after news broke yesterday that a grand jury cleared all officers involved in the May 10 fatal shooting of burglary suspect Terrence Franklin, the MPD went public with its official account of what happened that fateful afternoon in a basement on the 2700 block of Bryant Avenue South.
The official account doesn't differ substantially from the version of events police leaked to the media months ago. According to the MPD's official line, during a struggle taking place moments before he was shot eight times by two officers, an out-of-control Franklin managed to wrest control of an MP5 submachine gun from an officer. He fired two shots, both of which hit cops (their wounds weren't life threatening). Officers then opened fire.
None of the cops in the basement at the time of the struggle and shooting had tasers.
Here's a key excerpt from the MPD's official account (to read the whole thing, click here):
After knocking Officer Mike Meath off balance and freeing himself from Sgt. Andy Stender, Franklin charged toward Officer Luke Peterson and forced him backwards into this wall. Officer Luke Peterson grabbed hold of Franklin by the hair and attempted to force him to the ground. Franklin, who was 5'11 and weighed 196 lbs, was able to free himself and he turned and charged toward Officer Mark Durand, who had moved to this area during the initial physical struggle to remove Franklin from behind the water heater. Officer Mark Durand and Officer Luke Peterson described this to investigators as something like a football tackle. It caused Officer Mark Durand, who is approximately 5'6 and weighs approximately 150 lbs, to leave his feet as he was thrown backwards into the dark laundry room. Officers Mike Meath and Luke Peterson followed, with Officer Ricardo Muro just behind them.
As Officer Mark Durand was forced off his feet and backwards into the laundry room, he removed his right hand from the pistol grip of the MP5 in order to brace his fall and ensure that his handgun remained holstered when he landed. Officer Mark Durand told investigators, "As I was falling, I looked down and could see that [Franklin's] finger was now inside the trigger well on my MP5. I took my left hand and attempted to push the muzzle of the barrel down and away towards my left. I screamed, "He's got a gun! He's got a gun!" and then 2 shots went off." Two 9mm discharged cartridge casings were found at the base of the washing machine. These casings came from Officer Mark Durand's MP5. One of the rounds fired by Franklin struck Officer Ricardo Muro, the other struck Officer Mike Meath. Sgt. Andy Stender dragged Officer Ricardo Muro to the base of the stairs and ran outside to secure his dog so he could return and assist in evacuating him.
After falling to the ground, Officer Mark Durand and Franklin continued to struggle for control of the MP5. During that struggle, the flashlight mounted on the barrel of the weapon turned on briefly, lighting up Officer Luke Peterson. He reported seeing that light travel up his body toward his head. He had already heard his fellow officers screaming that they had been shot and told investigators that he believed Franklin was going to shoot him. In his statement to investigators, Officer Luke Peterson said, " The suspect was going to continue to shoot at us so I collapsed into the submachine gun. I did this because my brain told me to trap the barrel of the gun with my bullet proof vest. I instinctively knew I would survive gunshot rounds to my vest and I also knew that by doing this it would prevent officers behind me from taking additional gunshots. I used myself and the vest essentially as a body bunker for the officers behind me and to prevent the suspect from shooting me in the head...I reached out in the darkness and felt for [the suspect's] head. I needed to do this because the light was either trapped by my body of had shut off...the suspect was still trying to work the weapon and was in control of it...I remember feeling the dreadlocks in the suspect's hair again and knew in the darkness where he was at. I also knew that Officer Durand was close to the suspect's head so I brought my handgun close to me and at a different angle so as to not shoot Officer Durand." Officer Luke Peterson then fired his handgun 4 times, stopping when he no longer felt Franklin fighting for control of the MP5.
At the same time, Officer Mike Meath, who had fallen to the ground after being shot, also made the decision to use deadly force. He later told investigators, " I remember lying on my butt on the basement floor and hearing the sounds of a struggle directly to my left. As I looked to my left I could make out two silhouettes. The first one I recognized as the suspect due to his dreadlocks. He was positioned on the ground sitting up with Officer Peterson directly on top of him. I could still hear "He's got a gun"...As I looked toward the suspect and Officer Peterson's position I immediately observed that the two appeared to be struggling over something...I immediately believed that this was the gun that was being yelled that the suspect had. I remember feeling extremely scared as if I was going to die in the basement along with Officer Peterson. I also remember after hearing someone yelling they had been shot that the pain I felt in my right hip area was my own gunshot wound...The next thing I remember was holding my firearm in my hands and firing...I remember the suspect's body going limp against Officer Peterson...At that point I immediately knew that I had to tend to my gunshot wound. I remember feeling extremely scared because I knew I only had 30 seconds to get the tourniquet on." Officer Luke Peterson and Officer Mark Durand immediately went to the aid of Officer Mike Meath and applied a tourniquet to his leg.
At a press conference last night, MPD Chief Janeé Harteau said, "Terrance Franklin's actions dictated the outcome on May 10th."
"This could have had a different outcome. Terrance Franklin had numerous opportunities to surrender, but it was clear by his actions, that from the beginning he had made the decision not to get caught at any cost," Harteau continued. "Terrance struck a squad; fled the scene; placed his own 9-11 call to divert officers from his location; kicked in a door and burglarized a home; fought officers and a K9 dog; and finally shot and wounded two Minneapolis police officers."
Mike Padden, the attorney representing Franklin's family, said he's not surprised by the grand jury's ruling or the MPD's official version of events.
Asked by a KSTP reporter whether he believes Franklin really grabbed for an officer's gun, Padden replied, "no way."
"Our position is that it never happened. If that happened he would have had to be suicidal; he wasn't suicidal," Padden continued, adding that he and Franklin's family plan to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
"We believe there was a cover up. So we believe when the entire evidence is presented it will show that," Padden said.
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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