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

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Chief Harteau on racial incidents: 'This isn't who we are'

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: August 5, 2013 - 5:21 PM

Saying that most Minneapolis police officers conduct themselves appropriately when dealing with the public, Chief Janeé Harteau on Monday said she plans to examine the department's training and hiring practices after two incidents in which white officers allegedly used racial slurs and got into fights with black men while off duty.

In both cases, the officers were out late at bars when the fights happened, and in both cases the officers disrespected the local police officers who showed up to investigate. Five officers from the two incidents, one in Green Bay, Wis., and the other in Apple Valley, are under internal affairs review. 

Harteau said she plans to convene her 'Chief's Citizen's Advisory Council' on Wednesday, with invitations to city faith and cultural leaders, as well as the police union, to talk about the issue. Many of the department's rank and file have been upset by the stories, she said. 

"They are tired of the negative actions of a few that overshadow the great work they do every day," said Harteau. "Enough is enough."

Harteau said she wants to create a "culture of accountability" at the police department and that she's requiring all officers to say something if they see another officer acting inappropriately. "If you continue to be silent, you're part of the problem," she said Monday. 

 

 

 

8th Circuit Court of appeals threatens Minneapolis lawyer with sanctions

Posted by: Randy Furst Updated: July 15, 2013 - 11:54 AM

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals took the unusual step on Monday of threatening to impose its own sanctions on a Minneapolis foreclosure attorney for continuing to file appeals, using legal arguments that have been repeatedly rejected by the district court in Minnesota as well as the federal appeals court.

Attorney William B. Butler already faces possible discipline from the federal district court in Minnesota and the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, both of which are currently conducting investigations of him. Butler's problems were described in the Star Tribune last Thursday.

It is the third time in five days that the appeals panel has upheld the dismissal of a Butler lawsuit. On Thursday and Friday it issued separate opinions, upholding dismissals of his suits by Minnesota District Court judges.

On Monday, a three-judge appeals court panel issued its latest ruling, upholding a decision by U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz, who dismissed a case filed by attorney Butler last August. The appeals panel called Butler's continued rehashing of arguments "troubling," citing three similar Minnesota cases in which his arguments were rejected.

"HIs deliberate attemp to ignore these cases suggests that he has the intention of deceiving or misleading the court into ruling in his favor," the panel said in Monday's decision. "At the very least, it suggests he lacks a nonfrivolous basis for appeal. Such conduct may provide a basis for this court to impose its own sanctions in the future."

The appeals court quoted liberally from Schiltz's harsh criticism of Butler for using the "show me the note argument" that the foreclosing entity no longer possesses the original foreclosure borrowing note, making the foreclosure invalid. In his August ruling, Schiltz imposed sanctions totalling $79,766. Butler has said he will not pay the sanctions by local federal judges, insisting his position is correct, the courts are wrong and he will eventually prevail. The sanctions now total $323,307, according to Star Tribune calculations.

In his latest ruling the appeals court quoted Schiltz, describing Butler's strategy:

"Butler takes a group of a dozen or so individuals who are facing foreclosure but otherwise have no connection to one another; he gins up a dozen or so claims against a dozen or so defendants grounded mostly on the show-me-the-note theory; and he fraudulently joins a single nondiverse defendant (typically a law firm that represented one of the lenders in a foreclosure proceedings) in an attempt to block removal to federal court.

"The defendants generally remove the cases to federal court, and Butler then moves to remand. If the judge denies Butler's motion, he might 'remand' the case himself by voluntarily dismissing it and refiling in state court within a day or two, thereby starting the process all over again. To hide his conduct, Butler will reorder the names of the plaintiffs or substitute a new plaintiff for one of the old plaintiffs, so that the refiled case will have a different caption.

"When Butler's claims are finally challenged on the merits, he makes false representations and spins out  contradictory and often absurd arguments in the hope that their sheer weight and number, multiplied by the number of parties and claims, will overwhelm his opponents and the court...." 

Two stranger rapes in Whittier prompt police warning

Posted by: Updated: June 28, 2013 - 12:34 PM

By Matt McKinney

Two women reported rapes in separate late-night attacks in Minneapolis this week, both occurring in the Whittier neighborhood, police said Friday. Both attacks took place around 2 a.m. in public spaces while each woman was walking alone.

The first attack occurred Monday near the intersection of West Franklin Avenue and Lyndale Avenue South at 2:20 a.m. The woman was walking down an alley when the suspect approached her and tried to make small talk. He then threatened to kill her, showed a gun and dragged her to a grassy area and sexually assaulted her.

The second attack took place Wednesday in the 2800 block of Stevens Avenue South at 2:07 a.m. The woman was walking home through a park when she heard someone trying to get her attention. She ignored the man but was attacked and dragged to an area where she was sexually assaulted.

No further information was available. The victims were not able to give detailed descriptions of the suspects.

Police officials Friday issued a list of safety tips:

* Avoid walking alone at night, especially in dark or isolated areas. 

* Limit alcohol consumption while out.

* If you arrive as a group, leave as a group; don't leave someone behind.

* Ensure everyone can get home safely before splitting up.

* Trust your instincts; stay alert to your surroundings.

* Carry your house or car keys in your hand while outside.

* If you hear unexpected or suspicious activity outside, look to see if someone needs help or needs you to call 911 for them.

 

Child, two adults shot in north Minneapolis; all expected to live

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: June 26, 2013 - 11:55 AM

A four-year-old child and two adults who were shot Tuesday night in the 3600 block of Penn Av. N. were not victims of a random shooting, according to the Minneapolis police department, an indication that the adult victims and the shooter knew each other. 

The shooting victims are all expected to live, according to authorities. The two adults remain sedated at the hospital and police have been unable to interview them. The public is not at risk and it appears the shooting was an isolated incident, according to an update from the Minneapolis police distributed late Wednesday morning.

The shooting suspect was identified as a black male, 5'8" tall with a heavy build. Anyone with information was asked to call the police department TIPS line at 612-692-TIPS (8477).

 

 

City to pay out $3 million for death in police misconduct lawsuit

Posted by: Randy Furst Updated: May 24, 2013 - 3:31 PM

The Minneapolis City Council council approved a $3.075 million settlement on Friday to resolve a federal law suit filed by the family of David Smith, a 28-year-eight old Minneapolis man, who was killed during a struggle with two police officers at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA in 2010.

(Video above was produced on Feb. 6, 2012.)

The settlement is the second largest payout for a police misconduct lawsuit in the history of Minneapolis. The city will pay the Smith family $1.1 million and $1.975 million in attorneys fees to the Minneapolis law firm of Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp. It's second only to the $4.5 million paid in 2007 to a Minneapolis officer shot by another officer.

The death of Smith raised questions about putting a suspect on his stomach, and holding him down by putting knees on his back, known as prone restraint. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide.

In a statement issued after the council action, Susan Segal, Minneapolis city attorney said "today's settlement is a responsible way to bring this to a close in the face of mounting legal costs that would continue to grow significantly through a trial."

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