WCCO's Caroline Lowe breaks the news today that Minneapolis police Lt. Lee Edwards has been relieved of duty pending a federal investigation. Veteran fellow officer Mike Roberts has also been removed from his post while the probe is conducted.
Edwards is a former homicide investigator and 4th precinct inspector. More significantly he is one of five black police officers currently suing the MPD and chief Tim Dolan in federal court on charges of racial discrimination. Edwards was demoted from his 4th precinct post last summer. In February he was cleared by an internal probe of allegations that he drove his squad car while drunk. Edwards is currently a finalist for the police chief post in Northfield.
No details have been released regarding the nature of the federal investigation, which Lowe reports has been going on since last year. MPD officers were notified of the personnel moves at roll calls last night.
This morning John Kassen and Andrew Muller, the attorneys representing Edwards, released a statement defending their client:
We believe that this current disciplinary action against Lt. Edwards fits a pattern of alleged retaliatory and discriminatory discipline by Dolan of officers, black and white, who speak up about the alleged racist practices of the Minneapolis Police Department. Such discipline has been used in other instances to intimidate officers such as Lt. Mike Keefe and Sgt. Charlie Adams; now it is happening to Lt. Lee Edwards.
This is the second time Dolan has come after Lt. Edwards. The first time, Lt. Edwards was disciplined for allegedly driving a police department vehicle under the influence of alcohol. That charge against Lt. Edwards was ultimately found to be bogus and Lt. Edwards was fully exonerated.
This current allegation against our client, Lt. Edwards will be found to be baseless. There is no connection between Lt. Edwards and Mike Roberts. The intent of the allegations against Lt. Edwards can only be to punish and intimidate those on the MPD who speak out against discrimination. It is our intention that this current disciplinary action against Lt. Edwards will become an integral part of the lawsuit that is pending in Federal Court against Chief Dolan and the City of Minneapolis. Ultimately, the City of Minneapolis and Mayor Rybak are going to have to account for the actions of the man they have placed in charge of our police department, Chief Dolan. Right now, Mayor Rybak seems content to let Chief Dolan run rough shod, and to let him do as he pleases, without concern for how it will impact the City and race relations within its departments.
The intent of the current investigation against Lt. Edwards is obvious. It is intended to harm Lee Edwards professionally and his family personally. When the allegations and investigation against Lt. Edwards are shown to have no merit, the City of Minneapolis and Mayor Rybak will called upon to explain why such unilaterally punitive acts are allowed to continue without proper political oversight.