Of the many revelations from the investigation of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, it ranks relatively low.
But back in January, authorities were scratching their heads after a Taser issued to the ex-Minneapolis police officer was recovered during a traffic stop in Burnsville — more than seven months after Chauvin was fired for his role in Floyd's in-custody death.
The specifics of how and when the device was taken have not been disclosed publicly. Neither was the identity of the person found with the stolen device or the circumstances that led to the traffic stop in the south metro suburb.
"At this point we are unsure when this Taser was taken, or where it was located when it was taken," Minneapolis police Cmdr. Travis Glampe wrote in a report several days after its recovery. He wrote that after determining that the stun gun was one of theirs, the department's Taser training coordinating officer confirmed that the device belonged to Chauvin. The head of the department's internal affairs then contacted BCA agent James Reyerson, who oversaw the agency's investigation of Floyd's death, to arrange the device's retrieval, according to the report.
A Minneapolis police spokesman declined to comment. Inquiries to the Burnsville Police Department weren't immediately returned, and a spokesperson for the Dakota County Attorney's Office said she was unaware of the case and that it wasn't immediately clear whether anyone has been charged with a crime.
Far from a central question of the case, the Taser's disappearance has still baffled investigators.
It's possible the device was taken in the chaos of the torching and looting of the Third Precinct police station during last summer's unrest — a defining moment in the protests and riots that erupted after Floyd's death.
Authorities say that looters stole various police equipment and files from the burning building. Some were later recovered, including a vest belonging to Tou Thao, another of the officers charged in Floyd's death.
Several people have been charged with storming the precinct and starting fires that eventually consumed parts of the building.
Last November, a central Minnesota man pleaded guilty under a plea bargain to breaching the fence that enclosed the precinct and helping light a Molotov cocktail, which another man brought into the building and used to set it on fire, court records show. Bryce Michael Williams of Staples, Minn., was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit arson, along with three alleged co-conspirators: Dylan Robinson of Brainerd; Davon De-Andre Turner of St. Paul, and Branden Michael Wolfe, also of St. Paul. Like Williams, the other men pleaded guilty under plea agreements.
The charges say Turner helped Williams light the Molotov cocktail and carried it into the precinct.
Robinson also threw an incendiary device into the building, and Wolfe rolled a barrel into the flames "with the intent to accelerate the existing fire," according to the indictment.
A member of the Boogaloo Bois, a right-wing group intent on capitalizing on chaos and starting a civil war, also faces charges related to that night. Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Boerne, Texas, is accused of shooting 13 rounds from an AK-47-style rifle into the precinct while people were inside the building.
Third Precinct 'souvenirs'
Hennepin County prosecutors separately charged Wolfe with theft of government property after authorities reportedly raided his St. Paul apartment and found a stash of items apparently taken from the precinct, including a riot helmet with an MPD logo on the front, MPD "junior officer" badge stickers, an MPD officer award coin, a police radio and a Narcan kit.
According to a criminal complaint filed in District Court, Wolfe told police that he initially went inside the police station on the night it burned, May 28, and took two batons. But after he lost one of the batons, he went back the next day looking to take a souvenir from the building, which hadn't yet been boarded up, the complaint says.
Once inside, he told police, he found various items: a ballistic vest, a black bag containing a shield helmet, two pairs of boots, a radio, a radio charger, a microphone, an earpiece, two pairs of handcuffs, a medical kit and an opioid overdose kit, the complaint says.
He also took two gold name plates, two duty belts and almost a full box of .45-round ammunition on his way out, prosecutors allege.
Wolfe's public defender said Friday afternoon that she couldn't comment without her client's permission.
As part of their investigation, federal agents studied videos posted on social media and from nearby city-owned surveillance cameras to try to identify others who helped burn the building. They gave suspects monikers to help differentiate them, according to court documents; one suspect, for example, became "Striped Shirt Man" because he wore a white shirt with a black stripe down the middle.
Chauvin was fired from the department the day after Floyd's death May 25; he, Thao and two other fired officers were later charged. Chauvin is the first to be tried. Closing arguments are set for Monday after nearly three weeks of testimony.
Staff writer Andy Mannix contributed to this report.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 • @StribJany