State: Police video must be handed over

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2012 - 8:19 PM

Police were wrong to withhold video of man who said he was strip-searched in public, state office ruled.

The Minneapolis police will review its policies about squad car videos after a state agency ruled the city wrongly withheld a video from a man who said he was strip-searched in public by officers.

The state office that oversees public access to government records said in a decision released this week that the city of Minneapolis could not legally withhold the video, despite the Police Department's claim that an active investigation of the man's complaint made the video non-public.

Attorney Ryan Vettleson, who filed the request on behalf of his client, said he wants to view the video to see if it shows a civil rights violation. He now expects to receive the video within the next week or so, he said. Vettleson said he could not reach his client Friday and thus did not want to name him.

Vettleson in March asked the Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) of the Department of Administration to review the case.

Citing the state law that oversees police collection of data, the IPAD office pointed to two subdivisions of the law that say "arrest" and "response or incident" data are public. There are no exceptions when that data is part of an investigation of an officer, said the ruling signed by the Department of Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk.

The April 9, 2009, strip search did not generate a police report, according to Vettleson, and no charges were ever filed against his client.

The man filed a complaint about the strip search with the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority. Vettleson said he received a letter Friday from the authority saying it had decided against sustaining his client's complaint, meaning its investigation was over. He said the letter did not explain the decision.

Vettleson first asked for the video in June 2010, but his request to the Police Department was denied. The video was part of the authority's investigation, he was told, and therefore not public.

The department generally releases squad car videos unless they are part of an active criminal or internal case or are considered "offensive to the common sensibilities," meaning gory, said department spokesman Bill Palmer.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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