Ignoring police calls to surrender in favor of a final, frantic showdown, Terrence Franklin charged at police officers and knocked one to the floor, setting off an all-out brawl in the darkened basement of an Uptown house seconds before he was killed, according to a police account released Thursday evening.
The account, coming just hours Thursday after a Hennepin County grand jury cleared Minneapolis police officers of any wrongdoing in the fatal May 10 shooting, is the first explanation from the department of how 22-year-old Terrence Franklin, who was wanted for questioning in a burglary case, ended up dead when five police officers found him hiding in a basement.
“Mr. Franklin’s actions dictated the outcome of that day,” said Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who was criticized in the days after the shooting for not providing details of the incident.
Speaking to that criticism on Thursday, Harteau said the process required that she not speak until the grand jury completed its review.
“I would have loved nothing more to speak as soon as I could, and this is as soon as I could do so in the right way. It’s about the facts, it’s not about speed,” she said.
Among the details released Thursday: Franklin was shot eight times by two officers. He charged at an officer who was armed with an MP5 machine gun, knocking that officer to the floor. None of the officers was carrying Tasers.
Franklin fired twice, hitting two officers in the legs. Both officers survived but have not yet fully recovered from their injuries.
The grand jury reached its decision after two days of testimony and 19 witnesses, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday. Franklin family attorney Mike Padden said Thursday that he’s looking forward to police releasing evidence so he can begin with a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of Franklin’s family.
The evidence police gave Thursday evening portrayed Franklin as a wildly out-of-control suspect who fought to the death. He led officers on a 91-minute chase through Uptown after an apartment building manager on Lyndale Avenue S. called 911 to report a burglary suspect, Franklin, on his property.
Franklin drove off in a blue PT Cruiser with a woman and two young children, hitting a squad car as he fled. He then parked and ran, eluding police until he was found in the basement of a house in the 2700 block of Bryant Avenue S.
According to police: Franklin, at 5 feet 11 and 196 pounds, pulled free from a police dog and two officers when he was found hiding behind a basement water heater. He then pushed one officer against a wall and knocked a fourth to the ground, gaining control of that officer’s MP5 machine pistol in the process. “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” the officer yelled.
Franklin twice pulled the MP5’s trigger, striking officers Ricardo Muro and Mike Meath in the legs. DNA analysis later showed that Franklin touched the trigger, police said. Fearing that he was about to be shot, officer Luke Peterson “collapsed” onto the barrel of the MP5 so that his bulletproof vest would take the shot.
“I used myself and the vest essentially as a body bunker,” he told investigators.
Now in arm’s reach of Franklin, Peterson told investigators he reached out in the darkness and felt Franklin’s head.
“I remember feeling the dreadlocks in the suspect’s hair again and knew in the darkness where he was at,” Peterson told investigators. He then aimed his handgun at Franklin and shot four times.
Meath, who had fallen down after being shot, told investigators he could see Franklin and Peterson struggling. Meath told investigators that the next thing he remembered, he was holding his firearm in his hands and shooting.
He then saw Franklin’s body go limp.