Authorities have yet to release any more details in two suburban cases where police shot and injured suspects — one in April in Robbinsdale and another last month in Eden Prairie.
Investigations involving police shootings often take months to release.
It took about five months for authorities to investigate and a grand jury to clear officers in a 2013 Minnetonka fatal shooting, and public documents about the case were released then. It took nearly six months after a 2013 Orono shooting for authorities to finish investigating and a grand jury to clear the police officers who fatally shot an armed man after he killed a doctor.
And the deadly shooting last year of a couple on Hwy. 212 took nearly four months for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate before sending it to a grand jury, which took another seven months to clear the officers, finally releasing dash camera videos and public documents.
Now, in the two recent cases, both of which had no fatalities, use of force by officers is still under investigation.
In the June 20 Eden Prairie case, Matthew Raymond Hovland-Knase, 21, of Bloomington was charged with fleeing police. According to a criminal complaint, he sped away from police, reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour. When the chase ended, investigators said Sgt. Lonnie Soppeland’s gun “accidentally discharged” and struck Hovland-Knase in the arm.
Attorney Robert Foley said Hovland-Knase will plead not guilty in the case, but it’s unclear yet if he will pursue a case against police for shooting him.
“He definitely didn’t see it coming,” Foley said this week, adding that Hovland-Knase was unarmed. “At this point, I don’t know what happened and why the [officer’s] gun went off. We’ll be looking into all that stuff.”
In Robbinsdale’s April 16 case, 18-year-old Tania Harris has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault charges. Officers responded to a call of a fight and, according to the complaint, Harris “burst” outside, chasing a woman with a knife and screaming that she was going to kill her. The complaint, which charged Harris with second-degree assault, said Sgt. Thomas Rothfork ordered her to stop and drop the knife and when she didn’t, he fired twice, wounding her.
The county attorney’s office said it hasn’t received a file from investigators on the use of force. Harris’ family has called the shooting excessive and said she had a kitchen knife because she was defending herself from people threatening her. It spurred a rally by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, pushing for police to be prosecuted.
“They’re supposed to protect and serve,” Harris’ mother, Kim Tolbert, said this week, “and I don’t see that at all.”