Mpls. Police Accused of Racial Bias in Officer-Involved Shooting

Updated: 05/30/2013 7:37 AM By: Mark Albert

The attorney representing the parents of the man who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police after he allegedly shot two officers with a department-issued sub-machine gun earlier this month plans to level accusations at a Thursday news conference of racial bias by responding officers and actions by other cops that, the lawyer claims, have delayed the investigation.

"I have been asked to assist the family with trying to find out the truth," declared Mike Padden, the attorney for Sheila O'Neal and Walter Franklin, the parents of 22-year-old Terrance Franklin, who was killed May 10 after an altercation with police.

Padden sat down with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Wednesday for his first interview since being retained by Franklin's parents.

Padden, O'Neal, and Franklin have scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference for Thursday at the Minneapolis Urban League to air their specific accusations for the first time.

Thursday would have been Franklin's 23rd birthday.

Authorities say Franklin was cornered in a south Minneapolis basement after fleeing police. Franklin then got into a struggle with a K-9 and at least five officers and pulled the trigger on an officer's sub-machine gun, shooting two officers in the leg, three sources confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the night of the shooting, which was the first published account of what occurred.

"I can assure you that the family and the friends of this young man do not accept the contention that he grabbed for a gun," Padden declared.

Padden explained that the family holds that belief "because they tell me that he was not that kind of young man... If he attempted to get away from the police, that is a crime and he should be apprehended. I got no problem with that, OK? The problem, of course, we have and my clients have is the fact that he was killed."

Fleeing police, Padden said, "doesn't merit a death sentence."

At the Thursday news conference, Padden said he plans to play a video posted on YouTube which, he says, captures two responding officers using a racial slur that begins with the letter 'n' to describe Franklin.

Watch the originally posted clip here.

The person who took the video told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last week that he does not recall hearing any racial slurs being used.

"We can hear - me and my staff - can clearly hear use of the N-word on two separate occasions," Padden said. "Certainly, if we are wrong, we'll say publicly we are wrong. We don't think we're wrong."

When asked whether he agreed allegations against officers of racial bias were "explosive," Padden replied: "It sure is. It sure is."

Padden is also critical of a delay of more than a week in taking statements from some of the officers involved.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has said the two wounded officers - Michael Meath and Ricardo Muro - were in the hospital and on medication, and that the officer who collided with a motorcyclist, Ofc. Joshua Young, was still shaken up in the days immediately after the incident.

"We are moving as quickly as possible," Chief Harteau said at a news conference May 15, five days after the shooting, "but the goal is not to be quick; the goal is to be right."

Padden counters: "The state Legislature needs to step in and make it clear that police departments need to take statements from their officers right away... and by right away, I mean something reasonable, like within five hours... It should be that same day."

In a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation said:

"The union has always been fully committed to a complete and thorough investigation. Police officers have the same rights as every other citizen and in many other cases, things don't always happen as fast as some would like them to. I'm confident the investigation will conclude the officers acted properly."

Chief Harteau also issued the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

"I have maintained the integrity of the investigation by consistently declining to respond to speculation and anonymous sources.  It is disappointing that Mr. Franklin's family refuse my offer to meet to give them an inside look at the investigative process and status, yet they are free to make public accusations against my officers and question the legitimacy of our investigative practices.  If they have video of events from the scene, I request they turn it over to me as it is evidence in an active investigation."

Also Wednesday, Minneapolis police released to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the personnel records for the other officers directly involved in the incident, 14 days after KSTP's public records request was filed.

Ofcs. Muro and Young both have open internal affairs investigations, according to the records.

In accordance with the Minnesota Data Practices Act, no records were released by the department on the officer who, sources say, shot Franklin because of the officer's undercover status. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is not identifying the officer at this time due to his assignment.

The department also released a summary of the personnel file for Ofc. Mark Durand, whose sub-machine gun, sources say, was fired by Franklin, and a summary for Sgt. Andy Stender, whose K9 initially made contact with Franklin in the home's basement.

Discipline records for Ofc. Meath were also provided for the first time.

Click here to watch an extended interview with Padden.