Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) truth and lies were on display during the trial that began July 16, 2012. Mainstream media reporting is either silent or soft. What I report is what I heard in court. I was there.
The betting in many quarters was that Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Patrick King would win their lawsuits against the City for transfers they protested. Then they testified and lied through seven-and-a-half days of testimony, self-describing themselves as innocent and as the best investigators in the free world — legends in their own minds.
Lt. Smith and Sgt. King also lied about Black police officers, including Lt. Lee Edwards, Sgt. Charles Adams, Sgt. K.G. Paulis, and later Lt. Art Knight and former patrol officer Mike Roberts, along with White officer Lt. Michael Keefe, saying they were associates and co-conspirators with Minnesota’s Black gangs. Their testimony did not stop there. They portrayed Assistant Chief Janée Harteau and Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher as lying, incompetent co-conspirators, as scum of the earth.
Then it was the turn of the MPD. The wild allegations made by Lt. Smith and Sgt. King were countered with the quiet truth testified to by Assistant Chief Harteau and Deputy Chief Gerlicher.
First up was Assistant Chief Janée Harteau, Friday, July 20. She came across as the first person affiliated with the MPD able to tell the truth. Then Tuesday, July 24, around 4 pm, Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher dropped the bombshell, the sources of the information that led to the transfers Smith and King were suing about: a senior assistant U.S. attorney for the federal district of Minnesota and a senior FBI supervisor attached to the Safe Street Task Force that Lt. Smith and Sgt. King were members of prior to their February 14, 2011 transfers.
The information that is emerging during the trial provides a clear understanding of the depth of real corruption, racial animus, and just plain old mean-spirited disrespect and betrayal by some of the sworn officers of the MPD. Ironically, on Monday, July 23, Tom Lyden of KMSP, Channel 9, was in the courtroom. On his news broadcast that night, he interviewed the attorney representing Lt. Smith and Sgt. King, who claimed he and his clients were “exposing the cancer of corruption” that existed within the MPD.
At the time that statement scrolled across the news screen, Mr. Lyden chose to use file footage of Officer Mike Roberts going into the Federal Courthouse in St. Paul in May of 2009, when he was sentenced in a case, because of Smith and King testimony, that has left deep wounds within the culture of the MPD. Why didn’t Lyden return to court Tuesday to hear the riveting and telling blow delivered by Deputy Chief Gerlicher? Gerlicher testified that it was senior federal law enforcement agents who told him they would no longer accept cases for federal prosecution charges from the Safe Streets Task Force that involved
Smith and King.
The attempted defense countered on July 23, by Sgt. Kelly O’Rourke, only dug the Smith and King hole deeper. O’Rourke said the federal U.S. attorney, Todd Jones, was soft on gangs, drugs, and weapons. That will not help the relationship between the MPD and its federal partners.
None of this was reported by KMSP or Star Tribune. It can only be found in this column. See my past articles listed at http://www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/31minncops.htm.
In many respects, the attacks on Black officers, on the Black U.S. attorney for the federal district of Minnesota, and on a courageous lieutenant, who happens to be White, speaks to the depth of the tearing apart of the MPD from the inside. It certainly speaks to its diminishing future effectiveness as a law enforcement institution. We need an effective MPD, not an ineffective one.
We don’t know how the judge will rule in this non-jury trial where Lt. Smith is asking for $640K in damages and Sgt. Smith is asking around $570K in damages. The judge will have significant discretion in making his findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Once again, the majority media provides the citizens of Minnesota only a narrow and almost censorship-like journalistic overview of the real corruption and the real cancer that has struck down this department. Assistant Chief Harteau and Deputy Chief Gerlicher should be applauded and recognized along with federal law enforcement for bringing the light of truth to the pursuit of justice for all.
Column archive at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.