More than a year after the murder of George Floyd, there has still been no complete review of the city of Minneapolis' handling of the historic protests that followed — even as other cities have completed similar studies.

In February, local officials hired an outside firm to conduct an exhaustive report on the city's response, but company officials said in a presentation in July that their preliminary findings wouldn't be released for another four months. A final version likely won't be ready until February.

Floyd's killing in police custody touched off large demonstrations in Minneapolis and beyond that were occasionally marred by looting and arson. As the unrest continued, Gov. Tim Walz ordered hundreds of National Guard troops into the city and a curfew was imposed.

Zorislav Leyderman, a Minneapolis attorney who regularly handles police brutality cases, said an independent review should have been started as soon the protests began to wind down. The longer officials wait, he said, the harder it is to establish a full picture of what happened, as memories fade or witnesses move away and evidence is lost.

"I don't know why it took a year to start it," said Leyderman, who represents several people who have sued or planned to sue the city for injuries sustained during the protests. "The city of Minneapolis knew almost immediately that there were numerous people injured even though they weren't committing any kinds of crime, and so if the city was interested in getting to the bottom of that, then why wouldn't have they started this review many months ago?"

Some cities have moved far faster in completing similar studies. According to an unofficial list posted by the National Police Foundation, at least 10 U.S. cities have released protest studies — some before Minneapolis even approved the contract for its after-action review.

For example, New York City, Omaha, Neb., and Columbia, S.C., all conducted their own investigations and released their findings last year. Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia also released their reports after working with independent agencies.

Columbus, which experienced protests after Floyd's death and four subsequent fatal police shootings, collaborated with Ohio State University on an investigation and released a report in April, said Glenn McEntyre, assistant director of the city's public safety department. In the intervening months, he said, Columbus officials also brought in a special prosecutor and an independent investigator to evaluate police response to the protests. That decision led to criminal charges against three officers, McEntyre said.

In July 2020, less than two months after Floyd was killed, Philadelphia chose two firms to review the city's response to protests, police use of force and "other activities." Consulting firm CNA and Philadelphia-based law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker and Rhoads released a 110-page report in December that said the response to the protests "revealed fault lines in the City's current emergency preparedness and planning infrastructure, resulting in an inability to quickly respond to these unprecedented protests."

The review in Minneapolis

Last summer, Minneapolis officials formally asked federal authorities to conduct a review for the city. The Police Department was losing officers and didn't have the resources for its own investigation, Mayor Jacob Frey said. And, he added, "I don't think an internal review would be trusted by community, so it necessitated some form of external [review]."

But the city's request was denied, and Minneapolis officials began the monthslong process of soliciting proposals from contractors and approving funding in their annual budgeting process, which wrapped last December.

Council Member Linea Palmisano said an exhaustive review of the city's response to the Floyd protests would take time, but she was mostly pleased with how the study was unfolding. She pointed out that funding for the review came out of the 2021 budget and that a $229,000 contract with Hillard Heintze, a Maryland risk management firm, wasn't approved until February 2021.

"It was really important in this after-action development that if we were going to embark on this it was going to be something that the community could trust and it would have actionable recommendations," said Palmisano, who chairs the audit committee. At the same time, she pushed back against online criticism of the selection of Hillard Heintze, a company acquired by Jensen Hughes, which is a consulting firm co-founded by a former Chicago police superintendent who has been under fire for failing to rein in a disgraced unit.

Speaking to a City Council subcommittee last week, interim audit director Ryan Patrick said Hughes' founders are no longer with the company and had no role in the Minneapolis review.

Heintze officials — "an experienced team of former fire officials, emergency management officials, law enforcement with prior experience working with the Justice Department, specifically in police oversight" — had already conducted dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews and made several site visits, Patrick said.

While officials await the review results, Frey said, they have made some changes in hopes of improving protest responses, including limiting the number of officers who can carry launchers used for certain types of "less-lethal" weapons. An agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights says only the police chief or his designee can authorize officers to use such tactics.

The criticism over the city's response to the post-Floyd protests hasn't been limited to police. After the unrest subsided last summer, the firefighters union criticized the Fire Department's leadership for failing to call in major reinforcements as gas stations, post offices and businesses burned across the city.

Echoes of Jamar Clark protest

Some of the criticism leveled at the Police Department echoed complaints made after the 18-day occupation of the Fourth Precinct police station following the killing of Jamar Clark in 2015. City officials asked the U.S. Justice Department to conduct an after-action review, which found numerous instances in which officers used "less-lethal and nonlethal weapons" on protesters during the occupation, in violation of department policies, and often failed to document their actions.

That report also laid bare a "dynamic and chaotic" chain of events in which rank-and-file officers felt powerless, "as if they were left to deal with the occupation on their own." The 108-page report called for better record-keeping and training around police use of force, pointing out that on the night five protesters were shot, onlookers reported officers using pepper spray, though no record of such action exists. Nearly two dozen lawsuits have been filed against Minneapolis police and other agencies, while complaints against city police have skyrocketed. Yet, no Minneapolis officer has yet been disciplined in connection with the protests, according to police disciplinary records posted on the city's website.

Frey's office said Monday that state law prohibits public employers from releasing information until a decision has been finalized and that the officer involved must remain employed through the investigative process. Of the complaints being processed, it said, none meets the criteria for public disclosure.

Officials acknowledged last summer that some innocent civilians were injured during the unrest but said force was needed to maintain public safety and it was difficult to distinguish between protesters exercising their First Amendment rights and violent agitators. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo later instituted a policy banning officers from using crowd-control measures without his authorization. The department didn't respond to a request for comment.

Nadia Shaarawi said she has little faith in the review, saying that continued complaints of police misconduct at protests against police brutality suggests that lessons of the past are not being learned.

"It's not about looking at the training, even a critical look: I don't buy that policing can be fixed at this point," said Shaarawi, a local police accountability organizer. "So why are we spending so much at this point to fix it?"

Libor Jany • 612-673-4064

Twitter: @StribJany

Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994

Twitter: @LizNavratil