Updated: 09/13/2013 7:29 AM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
A high stakes, high profile case is now in the hands of a Hennepin County Grand Jury. Jurors wrapped up hearing evidence behind closed doors Thursday about a shooting in a South Minneapolis basement last May.
Terrance Franklin, 22, was killed by police, and two Minneapolis Police officers were hurt. At the time, the scene of the South Minneapolis shooting was surrounded by yellow tape and, even now, mystery. That's why the grand jurors met in private at the Hennepin County Government Center Thursday to begin a review of the case.
Derik Fettig is a Law Expert with Hamline University. He says, "Only the prosecutor is in the room with the grand jury as well as any witnesses presenting evidence." No one else is allowed in the room, not even the attorney for Franklin's family.
Mike Padden is concerned jurors will only get the prosecutors' side of the story. He says they're trying to cover their tracks after what he calls, a botched confrontation, "I believe this young man was wrongfully killed, yes."
Twenty-three people on the grand jury will determine if criminal charges should be brought against the Minneapolis officers involved in Franklin's death.
Sources within the police department tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Franklin was shot when he grabbed an officer's gun. Investigators say forensic tests show Franklin's DNA was on the trigger.
Fettig points out, "If grand jurors have legal questions they could ask prosecutors for guidance, but prosecutors can't advocate for an indictment."
For grand jurors, the standard of proof is lower than at a regular trial. They only determine if there's probable cause to believe a crime was committed, and in that case they can indict. "They're reserved for the most serious cases, it's supposed to serve as a check on what could be overzealous prosecution," says Fettig.
Twelve or more must vote to indict. Given that Hennepin County hasn't indicted an officer in 15 years, Franklin's attorney is doubtful, "It's very frustrating, it's been over four months now, how much time do you need?"
Testimony doesn't end Thursday. Jurors will come back next week for another round. That's when they could choose to indict, or not.
We checked with the Hennepin County Attorney and Minneapolis Police Department; they don't want to comment until deliberations are done.