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

Minnesota drug program cops exonerated; no charges filed

Posted by: Eric Roper under Politics and government, Public records, Public safety Updated: September 21, 2012 - 2:12 PM

By Matt McKinney and Eric Roper

Updated at 2:01 p.m.

The Hennepin County Attorney's office said Friday that no charges will be filed against a Minnesota State Trooper or a Hutchinson police officer, both of whom were accused of supplying drugs to young men in a botched drug training program.

A formal announcement is expected at 3 p.m., but a press release issued this afternoon said an "extensive investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension" came up with insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

“There simply was insufficient evidence for us to file criminal charges,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “The people making the allegations gave differing accounts of what happened, their accounts were contradicted by other evidence, and there was no substantial evidence to corroborate any of the allegations.”

The program itself remains suspended. "We will not reinstate [drug recognition evaluator] training until we determine the appropriate actions necessary to restore public confidence and ensure the integrity of this important program," Public Safety commissioner Mona Dohman said in a statement.

The allegations first came to light last spring when activists from Occupy Minneapolis claimed they were offered drugs and then tested at a facility in Richfield. At least the tests were real, part of a statewide training program run by the State Patrol and known as the Drug Recognition Evaluator program. That program trains law enforcement officers to recognize the signs of chemical impairment. 

A 35-minute video made by Occupy and police watchdog activists and distributed online in early May showed squad cars pulling up to Peavey Plaza, officers inviting young men into their cars and then driving away. The video doesn't show any drug use or officers offering drugs, but it does show the same young men hours later, purportedly after they smoked marijuana provided by the authorities.

At least three of those subjects came forward publicly with stories of being offered drugs, one of them saying he smoked it inside the squad car as the officers stood outside. That man, Jay Roland, said he was then taken to the Richfield facility so that other officers could observe the drugs' effects on his behavior.

State officials initially responded to the activists' charge by saying they found no evidence of misconduct.

Then an unnamed officer stepped forward and made the same allegations, prompting the suspension of the DRE program, the launch of a criminal probe of the Hutchinson officer and the suspension of state trooper Nick Otterson.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT