MPD Chief Harteau says squad involved in fatal accident with motorcycle was traveling 16 mph

Harteau suggested the officer driving the SUV wasn't at fault for the fatal accident.
Harteau suggested the officer driving the SUV wasn't at fault for the fatal accident.

During a news conference this afternoon, Minneapolis Police Department Chief Janeé Harteau said the police SUV involved in a fatal accident with a motorcycle last Friday afternoon was traveling 16 to 17 miles per hour as it entered the intersection of West 26th Street and Blaisdell Avenue.

-- Terrence Franklin shot multiple times by MPD, but it's unclear whether he fired a shot himself
-- MPD, witnesses differ on accounts of motorcycle accident that killed Ivan Romero [PHOTOS]

Harteau said the MPD determined the SUV's speed using GPS data and equipment installed inside the squad.

Somewhat curiously, Harteau said the officer driving the SUV hasn't yet given a formal statement to investigators. Asked why, Harteau said the officer has "been through quite the ordeal" and is "visibly shaken."

"We want to make sure we give him the time he needs to be able to give a statement," she continued, adding that surveillance video of the accident "tells the accurate story." (Harteau said she's watched video of the accident.)

Harteau acknowledged the driver of the police SUV ran a red light as he proceeded through the intersection of 26th and Blaisdell en route to 2717 Bryant Avenue South, the house where burglary suspect Terrence Franklin had been shot and killed a half-hour prior. (She said the officer was responding to a call from a supervisor at the house requesting additional support.) But the SUV had sirens activated and lights flashing, and "other vehicles had already stopped on both streets and both directions," Harteau said.

Witnesses have provided accounts of the accident that are at odds with the MPD's, with some saying the SUV raced through the intersection at 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Harteau said the motorcycle "struck the rear area" of the SUV, suggesting the driver, Ivan Romero, didn't see the police vehicle as he attempted to cross Blaisdell headed southbound. That also contradicts accounts given by some witnesses.

Despite her assurances about the SUV's speed, Harteau said the MPD has asked the State Patrol to assist in a reconstruction of the accident.

Asked about the separate controversy surrounding the incident inside the Bryant Avenue home that left Franklin dead and two officers with bullet wounds, Harteau said she isn't ready to talk about it.

The MPD continues to wait "for forensics, for all the evidence gathered at the scene," she said, adding that the two officers who were shot also haven't yet given formal statements.

"They're on medication," Harteau said, and the MPD is waiting for them to be in "sound mind to give a statement."

Harteau said she's personally reached out to the families of Romero and Franklin.

They've "declined outreach, but the offer still stands today," Harteau said. "It's only beneficial if we have an opportunity to have a conversation."

Asked what she'd say to the families, Harteau said she'd offer her condolences and assure them "we are conducting a very thorough, fair investigation leaving no question unanswered."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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