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“What prevents us from being able to take a second look at this and potentially bring charges is that the Garrity Warning and the Garrity protections prohibit us from using any of that information,” said Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office, before Hutchinson released Willers’ more detailed statements about the program Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors were unaware of Willers’ admission until the Star Tribune inquired on Tuesday.
Fred Bruno, an attorney who often defends police officers, notes that members of the public have similar protections against compelled testimony. “It protects the public from having a bad cop,” Bruno said. “But it also protects a cop, and gives him or her the same rights as Joe Blow.”
Willers’ admission could have implications for an ongoing civil suit. Several Occupy activists have filed a federal lawsuit against police officers and departments across the state; the plaintiffs allege that they were subjects of an experiment that violated their constitutional rights by participating in the DRE program.
The government defendants seeking to dismiss the case have so far made legal arguments under the assumption the drugs were provided, without formally conceding that fact. Nathan Hansen, an attorney for the activists, said Willers’ admission could be important if a judge decides the case can proceed.
“I think that it’s pretty significant because it’s an admission,” Hansen said. “They’ve admitted at least that that happened.”
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732