Attorney suspects cover-up of one officer’s ‘anger decision’
By Charles Hallman
After a grand jury decision to not bring charges against Minneapolis police for the shooting death of Terrance Franklin, his family still feels justice has not been done and plans to file a civil wrongful-death suit against the City in about 30 days.
Attorney Michael Padden said during a September 26 press conference in downtown Minneapolis that the Franklin family still seeks “a leveled playing field” and will continue to pursue justice for their son. “The primary reason
that “They killed my son,” added Walter Franklin, Terrance’s father. The MSR afterwards spoke exclusively to Walter Franklin.
“I technically can’t tell anyone how I feel about [losing] someone very close to you, this being your first seed,” said Franklin. “I have four [children] and raised eight. My life has changed tremendously — that was my oldest child.”
When asked if he considered media members insensitive when they asked about his feelings on his son’s death, he admitted, “I would say they are not very smart, but they are fair. You can’t just fake a feeling or play it off.”
The 22-year-old Franklin was killed May 10 in a South Minneapolis basement after fleeing from Minneapolis police, allegedly suspected of committing a crime. A copy of the autopsy report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office received by the MSR concluded that Franklin died of multiple gunshot wounds — eight shots entered the right side of his head, neck, arm and back. A toxicology report also was performed and found no drugs in Franklin’s body.
During last week’s press conference, Padden pointed out that it appears that all the shots came from one officer’s gun. Furthermore, he said he was not surprised by the grand jury ruling considering that since 2000 no Minneapolis police officer has been criminally indicted for killing a civilian.
However, he added that the officer in question “has a track record a mile long of excessive force against African Americans. I think this officer has a history of being racist. I think he was angry about the situation, a combination of racism and anger. I think there were primarily five reasons why he killed this young man.
“One, [Franklin] was a young Black male and [the officer] doesn’t like Black males,” continued the attorney. “Two, he was suspected of committing a crime. Three, he had engaged in flight — he was attempting to avoid arrest. That
[is] a combination for disaster for young Black males in Minneapolis.
“The fourth reason is very important. When Terrance Franklin attempted to get away, he may have come close to hitting an officer. And the fifth issue you have is friendly fire [that resulted in two officers getting wounded].
“I think you have an officer that is really angry about the situation, and he blames this young Black man because if he hadn’t tried to get away, the situation would have been prevented,” surmised Padden. “I think it was a split-second anger decision.
“I think this was primarily an act of one officer, but…I certainly believe there was a conspiracy to cover up what happened. I don’t know how many officers were involved.”
A video shot on a resident’s smartphone across the street from where Franklin was shot and killed was sent to Padden, who hired audio experts to review it. The MSR last week viewed several times the 1:03 minute video clip that was posted on YouTube, and it appears that the ‘N-word’ was spoken by an officer. However, we could not confirm hearing Franklin say, “Man, let me go,” which Padden and Walter Franklin told the media last week they have heard on the clip.
“It is like a voice coming out of the dead,” said Padden. “It is clearly the voice of a young Black male. It’s an amazing piece of evidence.”
“I know my son’s voice,” reiterated Franklin, who said afterwards that he and his family believe his son “was stripped of his rights even when [the incident] first started, even in the basement [where Terrance was killed].”
He also wasn’t surprised when the MPD announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the officers involved in the Franklin death. “We pretty much knew that’s what it would be from the beginning,” said Walter Franklin. “We will fight… We won’t let this ride out.”
“I would like for [the officer or officers] to be brought to justice,” Franklin said of the police officers who he believes may have been responsible for his son’s death.
“We are not contending at all that [MPD] Chief [Janeé] Harteau or [Hennepin County Attorney] Mike Freeman are part of any conspiracy” but added that a cover-up did take place, said Padden afterwards. “There was a conspiracy to cover up how this kid was killed. I don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill him but I believe primarily 99 percent of it was on behalf of this one officer. They were all angry down there, but I don’t think there was an intent on killing him.”
The lawyer said he believes that not all evidence was presented to the Hennepin County grand jury, whose proceedings are kept secret. “The man who shot the video [Jimmy Gaines] didn’t testify [to the grand jury],” stated Padden. “He will be one of our witnesses” in the wrongful-death suit he soon will file against the City.
“We will see what happens,” said Padden.