A former Minneapolis police officer has been indicted on 11 counts alleging that he abused his position as a street cop to steal meth, heroin, oxycodone and other drugs for personal use during the course of his duties.
Ty Raymond Jindra, a 28-year-old former North Side patrol officer, ran a scheme from September 2017 to October 2019 to steal drugs by means of "deception, extortion, and conducting unconstitutional searches and seizures," according to a grand jury indictment unsealed in Minnesota U.S. District Court Friday.
This included confiscating drugs during a search without his partner looking, then failing to log them as evidence or filing a report, according to the indictment. Jindra pocketed drugs turned in to police by a concerned citizen and skimmed from bags before logging them into evidence, according to the indictment.
In one case, the charges say, Jindra stole heroin and meth from the scene of an overdose call.
Jindra appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Paul Friday afternoon on six counts of acquiring controlled substances by deception, two counts of extortion under color of official right and three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. Appearing alongside his attorney, Peter Wold, Jindra pleaded not guilty to all counts.
"I've been working with Ty for a year now. He's a good man. He's presumed innocent. And that's the whole story," Wold said after the hearing.
As of Oct. 23, Jindra is no longer employed as a Minneapolis police officer, according to department spokesman John Elder. He started with the department in 2013.
Elder declined to comment on the case. A message to the Minneapolis Police Federation was not returned Friday.
The Star Tribune reported in February that Jindra had been placed on paid leave while under federal criminal investigation the previous fall.
Jindra came to the attention of department officials after being named in three excessive force complaints in a short span of time, sources familiar with the investigation said.
In the process, the department also reviewed footage that appeared to show Jindra pulling a small quantity of what appeared to be drugs from his backpack, a source said.
The charges say Jindra found ways to hide his behavior from his partner and other police officers, such as placing the contraband into his gloved hand, folding the latex glove over the drugs and then stashing them in his personal duty bag or some other location inside the squad car. Jindra turned off his body-worn camera at opportune moments during searches and failed to disclose key details in police reports, such as the seizure of pills he stashed away for personal use, according to the charges. He told his partner he planned to dispose of meth that he kept for his own use.
Jindra made his first court appearance Friday, via video, in front of Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson. Assistant U.S. District Attorney Amber Brennan said in court that Jindra voluntarily surrendered on the indictment Friday. Brennan didn't ask for Jindra to be detained in jail pending trial, saying he has known he's been under investigation for the past year.
Per the conditions of his release, Jindra must turn over his passport, continue with mental health treatment, not possess a firearm or other weapon, not use alcohol or controlled substance, agree to submit to drug testing and stay away from victims of the alleged crimes.
Jindra comes from a police family. His brother is a Brooklyn Park police officer, and his father, Jeff Jindra, retired from the Minneapolis Police Department in 2015 after a long career in which he received numerous awards.
The elder Jindra had his own history of misconduct allegations. In one case, he and a fellow officer were later cleared of criminal wrongdoing by federal authorities.
Before joining the force, Ty Jindra held a string of jobs and later enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard, spending time deployed overseas. He was hired by the Minneapolis Police in 2013, coming up through the community service officer program, and went on to earn numerous commendations for his police work, including once being named Fifth Precinct officer of the month after helping disarm a knife-wielding attacker, according to personnel records.
He has been the subject of 15 complaints, one of which resulted in a letter of reprimand, according to the records, parts of which were redacted. Eight of the complaints remain open; the rest were closed without discipline.
He was among the first officers to arrive to the scene of the police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017. Jindra's testimony in the ensuing murder trial of former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor took a controversial turn when prosecutors openly questioned why Jindra and several colleagues refused to meet with Hennepin County attorneys to talk about the shooting, necessitating a grand jury that forced their participation via subpoenas.
Staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this report.