Lt. Lee Edwards files 2nd suit in police corruption probe

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2011 - 11:40 PM

Lt. Lee Edwards, a target of the investigation, says he faced retaliation for uncovering racial discrimination within Minneapolis police.

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Lt. Lee Edwards, right, of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Photo: Stormi Greener, Star Tribune

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A high-ranking Minneapolis police officer who was caught up in an internal corruption probe has filed a lawsuit against the department, Chief Tim Dolan and several others, claiming that the probe was an attempt to silence his claims of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit is the second time Lt. Lee Edwards has sued the city of Minneapolis on a discrimination claim. Edwards was awarded $137,000 in 2009 in a suit that included four other black officers and alleged a 20-year pattern of workplace discrimination against black cops.

Edwards' new lawsuit claims that the department retaliated against him for filing the first lawsuit by launching an internal affairs complaint and by ensnaring him in the corruption probe.

The suit says Edwards suffered hostility, reprisal and an invasion of privacy as his phone calls and movements were monitored by the department. He seeks damages in state court of at least $50,000, attorneys fees and costs.

A call to Edwards' attorney, Al Goins, was not returned Friday.

The Minneapolis city attorney's office denied Edwards' allegations in its response. A call to the city attorney's office was not returned Friday.

Dispute goes back to 2007

In 2007, Edwards and the other officers were suing the department when police arrested a gang member named Taylor Trump.

The arrest led to an internal investigation after Trump claimed that he knew six crooked police officers who took money and prostitutes in exchange for information.

He said Edwards, whom he knew from college, was among the group. The results of an FBI investigation were eventually sent to the Anoka County attorney's office for prosecution, but the office declined to bring charges against Edwards.

Chief Dolan eventually ordered in 2009 that Edwards be suspended for 15 days based on the internal affairs investigation's finding that Edwards could have placed an officer's life at risk by sharing with Trump the license plate number of a car reportedly used for undercover operations. FBI agents had been listening in on the phone call.

Edwards' attorney at the time vigorously disputed the allegation, saying Edwards would never do anything to put another officer's life at risk.

Edwards, who as an inspector once ran the department's Fourth Precinct in north Minneapolis, is now the head of the property crimes unit in the Fifth Precinct, which covers southwest Minneapolis.

Edwards' suit also names Sgt. Patrick King as a defendant, along with two unnamed Minneapolis police officers. King was among the investigators handling the corruption probe, and until recently was a member of the department's Violent Offender Task Force, a prestigious appointment that put King on some of the department's most challenging cases.

King, who racked enough overtime in 2010 that he earned more than Chief Dolan, was removed from the task force in February and warned against taking too much overtime.

King has his own pending lawsuit against the department, alleging that he was shifted away from the investigations in retaliation for his work uncovering police corruption.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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