Politics ACLU lawsuit accuses Minneapolis of withholding hundreds of police misconduct files

00:05  04 june  2021
00:05  04 june  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, on behalf of the Minnesota Coalition On Government Information, filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo Thursday, alleging the city’s police department is violating public data laws through the use of “linguistic gymnastics.” The bulk of the ACLU ’s lawsuit concerns the Minneapolis Police Department’s practice of “coaching” officers found to have violated department policy.

The organization filed the suit on behalf of a reporter who said he was hit in the face with a projectile shot by the police as he was covering a protest. The lawsuit , filed on behalf of Jared Goyette, a freelance journalist who has contributed to The Washington Post and The Guardian in recent days, named the City of Minneapolis along with several law enforcement officials as defendants. The A.C.L.U. is seeking class-action status for the suit , which was filed in Federal District Court in Minnesota.

ACLU lawsuit accuses Minneapolis of withholding hundreds of police misconduct files © Getty Images ACLU lawsuit accuses Minneapolis of withholding hundreds of police misconduct files

A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accuses Minneapolis of withholding hundreds of files on police misconduct.

The ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in state court on Thursday with the Minneapolis Coalition on Government Information alleging that the city and the Minneapolis Police Department are withholding public data about disciplinary action taken against police officers for misconduct.

The suit centers around the police department's use of coaching, which is intended to be used for lower-level offenses, but which the plaintiffs allege the department is using for more serious violations.

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Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) filed a complaint Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court and is asking a judge to intervene in the matter. The nonprofit said that on Monday it requested several pieces of information from Minneapolis police about the death of Chiasher Fong Vue and that "As a result of the City of Minneapolis violation of MN Stat. 13.82, CUAPB is unable to fulfill its mission of increasing oversight and accountability of the Minneapolis Police Department with respect to police misconduct and to provide timely assistance to the family of Chiasher Fong Vue."

The American Civil Liberties Union has an app that allows people to record their interactions with law enforcement. Videos are automatically uploaded to the organization's server to ensure they are saved even if a phone is seized or destroyed. With protests erupting in at least 30 US cities over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis , Minnesota, the ACLU is encouraging people to document their interactions with police in case the situation escalates.

The city "refuse to release hundreds of records" where coaching was utilized, the complaint says. The plaintiffs say this represents a "misinterpretation of the statue to circumvent laws."

According to a Minneapolis police Manual of Policy and Procedure, coaching is a "non-disciplinary management tool" to help employees identify and use proper practices.

The manual plainly states that "coaching is not discipline," though it could be referenced on performance reviews.

The ACLU's complaint points out that because coaching is not discipline, it is shielded from data laws requiring it to publicly release those records.

The suit also suggests the police department imposes "coaching" for more serious violations.

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Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council on Sunday announced they intend to defund and dismantle the city's police department following the police killing of George Floyd.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Wednesday that it had filed a class-action lawsuit and requested that a Minnesota court protect journalists who have been targeted by local police while covering unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer last month. It details several instances of police violence, including the case of reporter Linda Tirado, who lost the use of one eye after an officer shot her in the face with a rubber bullet. “As we warned, if you come after our press freedoms, we will see you in court,” the ACLU said on Twitter.

For example, the suit notes that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in the murder of George Floyd, had at least 22 complaints against him. The complaint notes that all but one of them were "closed with no discipline," which likely means they ended in coaching.

In addition, the suit points out that former officer Tou Thao, one of three other officers charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's murder, was written up eight times in his first year on the force for dishonesty and/or taking shortcuts to avoid work.

Isabella Nascimento, a staff attorney for the ACLU said in a statement "coaching is supposed to serve as an early-warning system to spot problem officers, not make it harder to intervene before violations escalate to brutality and even murder."

"These actions by the city and MPD further deepen a culture of secrecy and reinforce the mistrust of a public who find it increasingly difficult to believe police will be held responsible," Nascimento said.

The Hill has reached out to the police department and the city for comment.

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usr: 3
This is interesting!