Staff Directory 6370533

Liz Sawyer

Reporter | Breaking news, crime and corrections
Phone: 612-673-4648

Liz Sawyer  covers Minneapolis crime and policing at the Star Tribune. Since joining the newspaper in 2014, she has reported extensively on Minnesota law enforcement, state prisons and the youth justice system. 


Sawyer graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in newspaper and online journalism. She worships her alma mater's college hoops team and thinks an orange is, in fact, a suitable mascot.
Recent content from Liz Sawyer
Jagdish and Vaishaliben Patel, with Dharmik, 3, and Vihangi, 11.

Man accused of human smuggling in deaths of Indian family during blizzard near Minnesota-Canada border

The family froze to death during an attempted crossing; Harshkumar Patel, an Indian national, was arrested in Chicago.
A health care professional weeps on a paramedic vehicle that has become one of three memorials in front of the Burnsville Police Department in Burnsvi

Two Burnsville cops, paramedic shot and killed; gunman dead

The first responder was trying to help one of the wounded officers when shot, police said. The shootings happened after an hourslong standoff following a domestic abuse call.
Nely Guerra-Rivera and Hailey Nelson held a flag together at a vigil for the two police officers and a firefighter-paramedic killed in Burnsville that

Outpouring of grief, support for 2 Burnsville officers and medic slain during domestic assault call

Hundreds turned out to watch the procession for officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth, 40.
Trooper Ryan Londregan stood surrounded by security, his lawyers and dozens of supporters, including many officers, as his lawyer spoke to the media a

Media coalition fights for immediate access to evidence in trooper's deadly force case

A group of Minnesota media outlets, including the Star Tribune, opposes prosecutors' request to restrict court filings from public view for two business days.
Police tape was crumpled on the ground on 29th Street near S. Colfax Avenue in Minneapolis.

In Minneapolis, police staffing levels continued to drop in 2023. So did crime.

Criminologists say police staffing is only one factor in a vast and complicated universe of what drives crime trends in the U.S.
Shooting in downtown St. Paul wounds 1 man, officers arrest 20-year-old suspect

Shooting in downtown St. Paul wounds 1 man, officers arrest 20-year-old suspect

The 37-year-old victim was shot in the abdomen and transported to Regions Hospital; he is expected to survive.
Three groups vying to monitor Minneapolis' consent decrees flaunt their credentials

Three groups vying to monitor Minneapolis' consent decrees flaunt their credentials

At two community events this week, three out-of-state police evaluation organizations presented themselves for community approval.
Shenedra Ross, mother of 11-year old La’neria Wilson, held a photo of the suspected rifle that injured her daughter Wednesday at HCMC in Minneapolis

Man charged with firing AR-15 on New Year's Day, injuring 11-year-old girl

Minneapolis Chief Brian O'Hara accused 44-year-old James William Turner of 'reckless celebratory behavior'
27-year-old woman charged with murder in weekend shooting at Marcy-Holmes deli

27-year-old woman charged with murder in weekend shooting at Marcy-Holmes deli

A brawl between customers at Mr. Santana precipitated the shooting, which killed a 40-year-old Michigan man.
La’neria Wilson, 11, waited to be taken into surgery at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. La’neria was struck by gunfire beneath her

Suspect arrested in New Year's Day shooting that injured 11-year-old Minneapolis girl

Police say the man was drinking and fired an AR-15 firearm into the air, striking the girl as she sat in her bedroom. She underwent surgery Wednesday evening.
Minneapolis police make arrest in Saturday shooting that killed Michigan man

Minneapolis police make arrest in Saturday shooting that killed Michigan man

Woman remains jailed in connection with the death of 40-year-old Kenneth Johnson; murder charges are pending.
St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry spoke at a news conference at St. Paul Police headquarters, flanked by Mayor Melvin Carter and Brooke Blakey, of the

Two children wounded in their own homes during overnight shootings in Minneapolis, St. Paul

The victims, a 10-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl, are both expected to survive.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke about the Department of Justice investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department on Friday at a news c

Finalists vying to oversee Mpls. consent decrees tout experience, diverse teams

Their services are expected to cost the city an estimated $1.5 million per year.
Minneapolis police officer James Kelley was honored with a department Lifesaving Award on Tuesday.

Dozens of Minneapolis police officers, civilian lauded for going above the call of duty

The award follows an attack on two officers responding to a domestic call Monday night.
Kesha Moore

Woman shot to death in Linden Hills apartment; suspect believed to be live-in partner on the run

The shooting occurred Sunday night in the Linden Hills neighborhood and is believed to be a domestic incident.
Anoka judge rejects challenge to Minnesota's new law restoring voting rights to felons

Anoka judge rejects challenge to Minnesota's new law restoring voting rights to felons

A lawyer for the conservative Minnesota Voters Alliance vowed to appeal the ruling and seek an accelerated review before the state Supreme Court — before the 2024 election.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara spoke passionately about the need for new officers during a special Nov. 17 City Council meeting.

Mpls. police union seeks state mediation for 'ineffective' contract talks

Public negotiations stalled last month.
Three finalists selected for independent monitor overseeing Minneapolis' consent decrees

Three finalists selected for independent monitor overseeing Minneapolis' consent decrees

The public will have a chance to hear from each group during scheduled community presentations in mid-January.
Marvin Haynes was exonerated. What's next?

Marvin Haynes was exonerated. What's next?

Dinkytown tobacco shop to enhance security following weekend shooting that killed 2, injured clerk

Dinkytown tobacco shop to enhance security following weekend shooting that killed 2, injured clerk

The family-owned shop will post licensed security guards at the door and limit the number of people allowed inside during late-night business hours.
Man, 20, dies at HCMC days after shooting in south Minneapolis

Man, 20, dies at HCMC days after shooting in south Minneapolis

Investigators believe the man was hanging out with friends in a nearby parking lot when shots were fired from a passing vehicle.
Brawl at Dinkytown tobacco shop led to shooting that killed 2

Brawl at Dinkytown tobacco shop led to shooting that killed 2

The victims were identified as Bryson Lamarr Haskell and Jamartre Michael Sanders, both 24 and from of Minneapolis.
Man, 34, identified as shooting victim in south Minneapolis homicide

Man, 34, identified as shooting victim in south Minneapolis homicide

Darius Renee Wilson of Burnsville died of a gunshot wound to the chest early Monday morning near Midtown Global Market.
Local law enforcement saluted Minneapolis police officer Jacob Spies as he was discharged from North Memorial Health after being shot in the line of d

Teen pleads guilty to role in shooting that wounded on-duty Minneapolis officer

The officer has since returned to duty full time, MPD says.
One person shot, killed Wednesday on south Minneapolis sidewalk

One person shot, killed Wednesday on south Minneapolis sidewalk

It is the city's 62nd homicide of the year, according to a Star Tribune database.
Kevin Reese, founder of "Until We Are All Free" discusses an evidentiary hearing to free her brother Marvin Haynes at the Hennepin County Government C

Marvin Haynes, sentenced to life in 2004 flower shop killing, seeks to overturn conviction

Innocence Project argues that Haynes, now 35, was wrongfully convicted based on faulty eyewitness identification.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin addressed the court as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over Chauvin’s sentencing at the

Derek Chauvin expected to survive after prison stabbing

The former Minneapolis police officer has been serving time in a medium-security prison in Arizona, where he was stabbed and wounded by another prisoner.
Man shot, killed in Minneapolis following 'verbal altercation'

Man shot, killed in Minneapolis following 'verbal altercation'

Nine people in Minneapolis have died from gun violence in the past three weeks.
Last November, audience members responded as the Minneapolis City Council’s public health and safety committee voted to recommend approval of the pr

Minneapolis civilian oversight is moving slowly as complaints against police mount

In its first six months, the Community Commission on Police Oversight has handled only two cases out of the hundreds of complaints filed.
The Minneapolis City skyline, including City Hall, as seen from the back of the U.S. District Court.

Lawsuit: Minneapolis' violence prevention office used illegal process to award millions in grant money

The civil suit asks a judge to suspend programs funded by the Neighborhood Safety Office "before more public funds are improperly spent."
Lt. Aimee Linson running on a treadmill, pictured in a 2019 Star Tribune file photo.

New head of Minneapolis police homicide unit was previously suspended for forwarding racist email

Lt. Aimee Linson returned to work in April after more than a year on paid leave.
Former Minneapolis police officer Justin Stetson, left, was sentenced on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, for beating Jaleel Stallings amid the civil unrest aft

Ex-MPD cop who beat Black man during unrest gets 15 days

Justin Stetson, the former SWAT leader who attacked Jaleel Stallings amid the height of civil unrest in 2020, received a sentence of 15 days in the county workhouse and two years' probation after pleading guilty to felony third-degree assault.
Minneapolis police officer suspended while department investigates alleged on-duty hookup

Minneapolis police officer suspended while department investigates alleged on-duty hookup

The six-year veteran is accused of exchanging erotic texts and arranging a meetup for oral sex during his overnight shift.
Nothando Zulu

Nothando Zulu, master storyteller and beloved educator dedicated to keeping Black history alive, dies at 78

She focused on children in particular, telling tales as a "means for her to teach without preaching or lecturing."
The cleanup in an Uptown apartment where a fire sprinkler was struck by gunfire in September.

Minneapolis police link shell casings from Uptown shooting to six different firearms

Gunfire erupted outside a vigil for 21-year-old Vintrez Lamont Johnson, who was killed on that block two days earlier.
Officer Thomas Davis was awarded a Lifesaving Award by Chief Brian O'Hara for saving a man's life who had been shot 11 times during the Minneapolis Po

Minneapolis Police Department celebrates officers who went above call of duty

Several dozen people, both sworn and civilian, received commendations for acts of heroism.
Minneapolis police body camera video showed an injured and handcuffed Jaleel Stallings in May 2020.

Mpls. City Council rejects $145K PTSD claim by former officer involved in beating

Sgt. Andrew Bittell was among dozens of officers who severed ties with the department while their disciplinary cases for misconduct were still pending.
Representatives from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, at left, and the city of Minneapolis conducted their second public bargaining sess

Minneapolis Police Federation proposes 1-year 'bridge' contract to tackle staffing crisis

The proposal, which includes a 5.2% pay increase without any new accountability measures, is a tough sell for city leaders.
Motorcyclist killed in crash with 15-year-old driver ID'd

Motorcyclist killed in crash with 15-year-old driver ID'd

Ronnie D. Rowles, 59, of Anoka, Minn., was traveling through a green light when he was struck and killed Wednesday night.
Charlie Adams, the Minneapolis Police Department Fourth Precinct Inspector, reacts as he arrives for a surprise party in his honor Thursday, Sept. 21,

Fourth Precinct Inspector Charlie Adams honored as 'gold standard' of community policing

Dozens gather at precinct to acknowledge his 37 years of service to North Side community — as a cop, youth mentor and football coach.
Feds searching for Minneapolis murder suspect 'mistakenly released' from Indiana jail last week

Feds searching for Minneapolis murder suspect 'mistakenly released' from Indiana jail last week

The incident prompted an internal investigation, which led to the termination of two employees.
Groups push for accountability, officer wellness in Minneapolis police contract talks

Groups push for accountability, officer wellness in Minneapolis police contract talks

One proposal would bar licensed police officers from responding to certain non-emergency calls.
Minneapolis police recruits listened as J. Scott Hill, chief Investigator for Montgomery Alabma’s humane officer division, talked about how to know

Minneapolis police staff levels hit historic lows amid struggle for recruitment, retention

With 585 sworn officers, the city holds one of the lowest ratios of officers to citizens among many major American cities.
Cleanup continued Monday in an Uptown apartment where a fire sprinkler was struck by gunfire.

Police: Gunfire erupts on same Uptown block where man shot dead 2 days earlier

Shots rang out during nearby memorial for 21-year-old Vintrez Lamont Johnson.
Minneapolis police outside the Third Precinct on May 27, 2020.

Attorneys decry Mpls. demands for private data in government transparency suit

The lawsuit hinges whether "coaching" police officers following policy infractions constitutes as formal discipline.
Law enforcement from various local agencies salute Minneapolis officer Jacob Spies as he was discharged from North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbins

ATF: Firearm that wounded Minneapolis police officer linked to other Twin Cities shootings

Frederick Leon Davis, the 19-year-old charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Officer Jacob Spies, now faces federal charges of unlawfully possessing a machine gun.
Officer Jacob Spies was joined by wife, Holly, and 12-year-old daughter Olivia at the award ceremony outside Minneapolis City Hall on Thursday, Aug. 2

Minneapolis police officer shot on duty given Medal of Honor, department's first Purple Heart

Officer Jacob Spies lauded as exemplifying the "very best of our profession."
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara announces charges against fourteen Minneapolis gang members with possession of machine guns, fentanyl traffickin

Minneapolis hires law firm to investigate complaints vs. police chief

An outside investigation is necessary to "preserve neutrality and investigator independence," a city spokesperson said.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara and Cmdr. Yolanda Wilks, head of the department’s new Implementation Unit, made opening remarks at the first

Minneapolis police take first steps toward consent decree reforms: Rebuilding trust

The reforms are required by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.
Law enforcement from various local agencies saluted Minneapolis police officer Jacob Spies as he was discharged Saturday from North Memorial Health af

Two charged in weekend shooting of Minneapolis police officer

The officer was in an unmarked car pursuing a group of robbery suspects late Friday when he was struck in the shoulder with automatic gunfire.
Bullets struck seven people at a pop-up punk venue in Minneapolis, killing August Golden, 35, a talented songwriter and musician who played in the pun

Few answers after fatal shooting at Minneapolis punk show

Police have announced no arrests in connection with the shooting at the pop-up punk venue Nudieland, as victims have received an nationwide outpouring of support.
Mpls. chief: Assailants may not have known they shot at police officer

Mpls. chief: Assailants may not have known they shot at police officer

Sources identified the officer as Jacob Spies, a seven-year veteran of the Minneapolis force.
Newly-appointed Minneapolis police 2nd Precinct Inspector Nicholas Torborg, left, of center, talked with Robbinsdale Police outside North Memorial Hos

4 arrested after Minneapolis police officer shot and injured while driving

The officer was pursuing a robbery suspect in an unmarked car, Police Chief Brian O'Hara said.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson spoke about the State Patrol shooting death of Ricky Cobb II at a news conference Aug.

Attorney, advocates for trooper who shot Ricky Cobb decry state officials' meetings with his family

Trooper Ryan Londregran's attorneys called the private conversations 'troubling," while the state's largest law enforcement group claimed they present a conflict of interest.
Rebecca Lucero, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, spoke during a news conference announcing approval of a sweeping plan to ref

Assistant Minneapolis city attorney overseeing implementation of police reforms leaving for St. Paul

Sara Lathrop played a key role in negotiating the city's settlement with the Department of Human Rights.
Woman fatally shot while walking outside home in north Minneapolis

Woman fatally shot while walking outside home in north Minneapolis

No arrests have been announced; the victim is believed to have been targeted.
Experts: State Patrol shooting poses complex legal questions

Experts: State Patrol shooting poses complex legal questions

Activists demand that the state trooper who killed Ricky Cobb II during a traffic stop be fired and criminally charged for his actions.
Newly released video shows Black motorist's fatal shooting by State Patrol

Newly released video shows Black motorist's fatal shooting by State Patrol

Squad and body camera video unveiled Tuesday reveals that he was unaware of the reason for the prolonged traffic stop — and resisted instructions to exit his vehicle.
Man, 33, shot dead by State Patrol on I-94 in Minneapolis

Man, 33, shot dead by State Patrol on I-94 in Minneapolis

He is the latest Black motorist killed by law enforcement in the Twin Cities following high-profile incidents dating back several years.
Newly appointed deputy chiefs Henry Halvorson, left, and Arthur Knight after their promotion ceremony in 2017.

Henry Halvorson, retired assistant Minneapolis police chief and Native community liaison, dies at 54

Henry Halvorson "was a beacon of light for so many," retired Chief Medaria Arradondo said.
Cedric Alexander spoke after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey introduced him in July 2022 as his nominee to serve as the new community safety commissioner

Mpls. safety chief Alexander to retire after one year on the job

Cedric Alexander's appointment was lauded as a 'seminal' moment in the city's history.
“I thought I was going to be George Floyd before George Floyd,” said, Ramone Brown, when Ty Jindra, a Minneapolis officer, followed him into a ser

City Council settles police misconduct case involving disgraced former officer Ty Jindra for $95K

'I thought I was going to be George Floyd before George Floyd,' said a Black motorist unlawfully stopped, searched in 2019.
Minneapolis’ Third Precinct police building was ransacked and burned during the riots following George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020. The build

Minneapolis City Council unanimously OKs downtown site for Third Precinct officers

Several council members want to bar the torched site from ever housing police again.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke about the future of the Third Precinct police station on Monday.

New plan emerges for replacing torched Third Precinct police station in Minneapolis

Downtown site for Third Precinct comes as survey showed most wanted to rebuild on existing site.
Fireworks set off in the Harrison neighborhood of Minneapolis Tuesday night.

Disturbances involving fireworks aimed at people and gunfire erupt in Mpls. as July 4 ended

Civilians, officers and their squads were targeted. Gunfire struck at least four people.
A screenshot of when Minneapolis police Sgt. Ron Stenerson pepper-sprayed a Vice News reporter, an incident cited in the U.S. Justice Department’s f

Minneapolis police officer who pepper-sprayed reporter in 2020 was on path to be fired

Former Chief Arradondo moved to terminate Sgt. Ron Stenerson in 2021, but he remained on the job due to his military veteran status. Stenerson later resigned.
A photo of Josiah Oakley friends and family brought to the sentencing for Sylvester Vaughn on Monday in Minneapolis. Vaughn was sentenced to 48 months

Drunk driver gets four years in death of 'gentle giant'

Friends and relatives packed a Hennepin County courtroom Monday to confront the motorist who killed 22-year-old Josiah Oakley while speeding through an intersection at 85 mph — with a blood alcohol level at nearly three times the legal limit.
Minneapolis 18-year-old sentenced for string of armed robberies that terrorized local businesses

Minneapolis 18-year-old sentenced for string of armed robberies that terrorized local businesses

Ja'Bron Dedrick Duane Jiles was a teenager at the time of the robberies.
Family members comfort each other as they attend the funeral of the five women killed in a car crash on Lake Street, at the Garden of Eden Islamic Cem

Mourners grieve 5 young women killed in Minneapolis car crash

Crowds gathered by the thousands to pay their respects. The suspect in the wreck is jailed.
The five killed were: Sabiriin Ali, 17, at left, Sahra Gesaade, 20, and Salma Abdikadir, 20, in the upper right, and Sagal Hersi, 19; and Siham Adam,

Crash kills five young women on Lake Street in Minneapolis

They just had henna applied for a friend's wedding when they were struck and killed Friday night in south Minneapolis by a speeding motorist who authorities say ran a red light.
7 injured after chase ends in crash at north Mpls. bus shelter

7 injured after chase ends in crash at north Mpls. bus shelter

Police believed the vehicle was linked to a string of robberies in south Minneapolis.
2 teens charged with murder in north Minneapolis shooting during apparent drug deal

2 teens charged with murder in north Minneapolis shooting during apparent drug deal

Derrell Deshawn Freeman, 27, was killed May 8.
Alan Davis

'He was a king:' Grieving Minneapolis mother decries violence following son's Memorial Day slaying

Alan Jermaine Davis was just 14 when he was gunned down in a north Minneapolis alley.
Minneapolis police chief Brian O'Hara speaks to a crowd during a law enforcement community dialogue Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at New Salem Baptist Church

Citing rampant gun violence, Mpls. police relax pursuit policy

Officers can now chase suspects in certain firearm-related offenses.