Terrence Franklin's DNA reportedly found on gun; family's attorney says evidence was planted
More than three months later, the circumstances of Franklin's death remain controversial.
According to forensic tests,Terrence Franklin's DNA was on the trigger of a police submachine gun involved in the struggle with officers that culminated in his death, the Star Tribune and WCCO report. The finding suggests Franklin had control of the weapon in the moments before he was fatally shot and killed in a Lyn-Lake-area basement on May 10, though attorneys representing his family claim the forensic evidence was planted.
Franklin's family members and attorneys representing them allege police had no need to shoot Franklin multiple times and kill him. On the other hand, the account of events leaked to the media by authorities portray the situation as one where officers shot Franklin because they had good reason to believe he was about to shoot them.
As we've extensively covered, on that May afternoon, Franklin was on the run from police after he was identified as a burglary suspect. Following a wild chase, he ended up in the basement of a home on the 2700 block of Bryant Avenue South. He didn't come out alive, but what exactly happened remains controversial.
Some allege there was a racial component to Franklin's death. Concerns about racism within the MPD were subsequently exacerbated by news of two incidents in which MPD officers used racial slurs in reference to black people.
Attorney Michael Padden, speaking on behalf of Franklin's parents, doesn't buy that the newly disclosed forensic test results represent the truth.
"It's our contention the DNA was planted. The DNA being on the gun fits exactly into our theory of the case," Padden told the Star Tribune. "This is no surprise at all, and we have expected this from essentially Day One."
WCCO reports that Franklin's case will be heard by a grand jury next month, which is standard when someone is killed by police. Grand juries don't have to hear both sides of a case, but even if they don't pass down an indictment, it's likely Franklin's family will pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
In an interview with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he's skeptical that on-duty police officers ever have any sort of malicious intent when using a firearm.
"Good people can disagree with this, but police officers never shoot their gun unless [they] fear for [their] life, your life, or someone else's," Freeman said. (Curiously, that quote has been removed from a subsequent version of MSR's interview with him.)
Meanwhile, citing "sources with knowledge of the situation," the Strib's report about the forensic testing results provides the most detailed account of what happened in that basement to date:
Minneapolis police Sgt. Andrew Stender, a K9 handler who was leading the department's SWAT team into the house, went into the basement and unleashed the dog, which charged at Franklin and began biting him, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation. Franklin broke away and went behind a water heater.
The dog began pulling him out, and Franklin stood up. Stender shouted at Franklin to put his hands up. When Franklin didn't cooperate, Stender started to drag Franklin out by his head as the dog kept its grip on his leg.
Stender, thinking he had the situation nearly under control, moved away to allow officer Peterson, a member of the SWAT team, to step in.
Another struggle ensued, and Franklin broke away and leapt toward officer Mark Durand, another member of the SWAT team, who was standing nearby with an MP5 submachine gun.
The sources said Durand struggled to hold the weapon down -- it was on single-shot mode, not automatic -- but Franklin was able to point it up and fire twice, shooting two other officers, Meath and Ricardo Muro, in the legs.
That's when Peterson, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, put himself between Durand and Franklin, who was still trying to get off another shot, and fired the shot that killed Franklin, the sources said.
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