For the second time in less than three weeks, an A&E true-crime television show is causing drama in a Hennepin County murder case.
Last week — days before the trial of Brandon Benjamin Broszko, 31, was to begin — attorneys on both sides of the case learned that Minneapolis police allowed a production company for “The First 48” to film them during their investigation of the killing last summer. The prosecution and Broszko’s attorney filed a joint motion Tuesday asking a judge to order the city of Minneapolis and the New York-based production company to turn over the footage, believing it could contain witness interviews critical to the case.
In the meantime, the trial has been delayed.
A near-identical scenario is playing out in another murder case. In that one, investigators let “The First 48” crew tail them after a double homicide in Minneapolis’ Peavey Park last July. Police ultimately arrested 23-year-old Antonio F. Jenkins Jr., who now faces eight felony counts.
As in the Broszko case, the prosecution and defense both demanded that the city turn over the footage, which also contained potential witness interviews, according to court documents. At a court hearing in late January, attorneys for the city said they couldn’t give up the tape because they didn’t have it, and a lawyer for “The First 48” said the show wouldn’t hand it over, citing the First Amendment and journalist shield laws. The judge has yet to issue an order in that case.
Debate over disclosure in both cases stems from what’s turning out to be a complicated relationship with Minneapolis police and the show, which follows investigators as they attempt to solve homicide cases, focusing on the critical first two days after the crime.
In 2014, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau signed a contract with the production company agreeing to cooperate with filmmakers, and giving producers full ownership of the footage. The contract also gives the Minneapolis police the right to review a “near final” version of any episode before it airs. Last year, Harteau agreed to extend the contract through June 2016.
In a statement, Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said the city “regrets that this problem has arisen” and the police department will sever its relationship with “The First 48.” “The bottom line, however, is that the city does not have the materials being sought,” she said.
Minneapolis police, defense attorneys, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and “The First 48” attorneys declined to comment.