A Minneapolis City Council committee voted against granting a video production company insider access to police officers for a documentary about women in policing, even though the filming is complete.
On Wednesday, Assistant City Attorney Burt Osborne told council committee members he didn't know how Minneapolis police leadership came to permit the production company, Blue Pictures LLC, to film behind the scenes beginning in 2017. He presumed former Chief Janeé Harteau agreed to it before she resigned that year. The city attorney's office didn't learn of the agreement until spring 2018.
"Sometimes we're the last to find out about a project going on," Osborne said.
After rejecting the contract, the council's Public Safety and Emergency Management Committee agreed to send it to the full City Council for a final vote, but without its recommendation to pass. It's not clear what will happen if the full council rejects the agreement next Friday.
The council committee planned to approve the contract Wednesday with no discussion, but reconsidered after a plea from Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County's chief public defender. Moriarty expressed concern that the filmmakers may have inadvertently recorded footage related to her clients' criminal cases that should have been admitted as evidence under Minnesota law, and that police didn't do due diligence to track it. If that turns out to be the case, she said, the agreement could mean reopening criminal cases and motions of prosecutorial misconduct.
"It's not just if our client is part of the process — it is if any of these police officers were interviewed about these cases as well," Moriarty told the council. "The big, broader issue is that we have no idea what was filmed."
The committee tied in a vote to approve the retroactive contract, which means a failure per city rules. Council Members Phillipe Cunningham and Linea Palmisano voted against it, Alondra Cano and Steve Fletcher voted in favor, and Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins abstained.