What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Posts about Public safety

Minneapolis police give crash course on use of force training

Posted by: Updated: April 29, 2015 - 3:06 PM

Minneapolis police held a use of force learning session at its 4th precinct headquarters Wednesday to give media personnel a firsthand taste of what officers go through in their training and how it applies in potential deadly encounters on the streets.

“There’s a lot going on in a short amount of time that we’re asking officers to handle,” said Sgt. Tony Caspers, Minneapolis police range master.

Members of the media were given a crash course on Minnesota law as it relates to use of force. They were also able to practice shooting a firearm and ran through different police scenarios using a video simulator.

“We have fractions of seconds oftentimes to make decisions and a lot of things have to factor into those moments,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, after the session.

Harteau said that “most of the time [police] get it right,” but there are times where officers make “egregious” errors she said like what happened in North Charleston, South Carolina, where an officer was charged with murder after a bystander filmed him shooting an unarmed man running away following a traffic stop.

“These are uniforms; they’re not super hero costumes,” Harteau said. “And we’re human beings and we’re trying to do the right thing in the right time and sometimes with limited information.”

WARNING: Video gets loud when Caspers shoots.

Activists plan rally in Minneapolis to support Baltimore protesters

Posted by: Updated: April 28, 2015 - 1:01 PM

After throngs of residents rioted in Baltimore following the funeral of a black man who died in police custody, activists in Minneapolis announced Tuesday their plans to hold a rally in support of the demonstrators.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said on its social media accounts that the group plans to hold a rally at 5:30 p.m. at Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis to "show the people of Baltimore that we stand in solidarity with them and with their resistance because their resistance is for justice and their justice is our justice."

The announcement came as National Guardsmen took up positions across Baltimore and volunteers began cleaning the streets in the wake of Monday demonstrations, which lead to at least 15 officers being injured, more than a hundred vehicle or structure fires, and nearly 200 arrests.

The riots broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray, 25, who died April 19 of spinal cord and other injuries sustained while in police custody. Gray's case is the latest to trigger a national debate over police's use of deadly force against black men.

"The media will continue to paint the people of Baltimore as rioters and looters but people forget that the City and Police of Baltimore loot and destroy Black and Brown communities of Baltimore every day of the year," said organizers on the Facebook page for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said the department routinely discusses events with demonstrators. 

"We work with them to ensure safety," Elder said. "We really do recognize people’s right to demonstrate lawfully."

Elder wasn't immediately able to confirm if protest organizers reached out to police about Wednesday's rally.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii; Black Lives Minneapolis held an MLK march from Snelling and University in St. Paul to the Capitol . They "died in" on an I94 overpass along the way.

Man charged with trafficking 16-year-old girl in Hennepin County

Posted by: Updated: April 27, 2015 - 6:15 PM

A 24-year-old man was charged Monday after he and other men allegedly trafficked a 16-year-old girl out of Twin Cities hotels.

Dante Ohaier Jones, 24, of St. Paul, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of promoting prostitution. Jones is one of five men who have been charged in the case. Three of the men have pleaded guilty.

According to the complaint:

In early 2014, the girl told police she had been brought to the Twin Cities area by a friend and dropped off at a trailer in Burnsville where she was introduced to men who trafficked her in December of 2013 and January of 2014. Police were able to get the girl away from the men, but a few months later, the girl went missing again.

Later in Minneapolis, police found the girl, who said that in March of 2014, a man named "Billz" took photos of her and posted them in prostitution advertisements on Backpage.com. The girl said that "dates" would pay to have sex with her or another woman when they went to hotels and that Billz or Jones, whom she knew as "Bossman," would keep most of the money.

The other woman said Jones took photos of her and put them on Backpage.com and when she went on "dates," she would give the money to Jones or "Billz." "Billz" told authorities that he would place advertisements online and he would give Jones money for driving them to the "dates."

More on the Grain Belt office stickup

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: April 27, 2015 - 12:34 PM

An item published in this space 10 days ago about the redevelopment of the final building in the Grain Belt complex included a coda about the big stickup there in 1941.

Because the Star Tribune has lacked a working machine to read its own microfilmed archives, it took a trip to the library by reference librarian colleague John Wareham to corroborate some of the details.

It turns out that the actual amount of the heist was $46,182 in cash, or about $742,000 in today’s dollars.  That’s a lot of money.  So why did the brewing company have so much on hand at its office that day?

According to the Star Journal, the cash was to be distributed to taverns in order to cash the payroll checks of presumably thirsty workers.

Moreover, the evidence suggested that the robbers knew exactly when to strike to grab that haul, and also probably had cased the place earlier since they seemed to know the layout, according to eyewitnesses.

One of the oddities of the robbery is that portions of it were broadcast live.  It happened that an ad manager was on the line to Hibbing station WMFG, still in business today, as the robber struck. Not knowing the cause of the ruckus, he laid down the phone to close his office door when one of the attackers shoved a gun in his face and declared, “This is a stickup.” That was heard over the phone at the station, which broadcast the news even before the robbers had fled.

The entire force of 40 police detectives was put on the case, which was believed at the time to be the work of hoodlums from the infamous Depression-era gangs.

Another interesting facet of news reports suggests that life was simpler back then. The bank’s surety company paid off the loss with a check a mere four hours after the holdup.

(Photo above: Telephone operator Minnie Gillis shows the switchboard at Grain Belt's office wrecked by the robbers to prevent calls for help.)

Slaying suspect, 17, arrested after being tracked to Missouri

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: April 25, 2015 - 12:04 PM

A 17-year-old boy suspected of fatally shooting a woman in south Minneapolis earlier this month was arrested this week after authorities tracked him to Missouri where he was apparently hiding out with family members, sources say.

Minneapolis authorities last week issued a warrant for the arrest of the teen, of Minneapolis, for the April 11 slaying of Ayan Abdi Abdulahi at a home in the 2400 block of Portland Avenue. Officers responding to a report of gunfire at the duplex about 2:15 p.m. that day found Abdulahi, 21, in the first-floor residence with a gunshot wound to the head, authorities said.

The ensuing investigation, which at times has been hampered by a lack of cooperation from the suspect's family, culminated with the arrest this week after authorities learned he was staying with relatives outside Kansas City, according to a source familiar with the case.

Police said at the time of the shooting they believed that “people are harboring [the suspect] and assisting in him avoid capture,” and that they would “aggressively pursue charges” against anyone caught helping him.

The homicide, the city’s seventh of the year, came amid a bloody week in Minneapolis that saw two other homicides and numerous non-fatal shootings. 

Police have not offered a motive for the slaying, but community leaders and a person familiar with the investigation said it stemmed from a domestic dispute.

A department spokesman declined on Saturday morning to comment on the arrest.

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