In the year 2022, we witnessed again two more local killings of Black people at the hands of police. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman last week announced that no charges will be filed against the officer or officers involved in the shooting death of Tekle Sundberg last July after a long standoff at his Minneapolis apartment building.
Earlier this year no charges were filed in the police shooting death of 23-year-old Amir Locke inside a downtown Minneapolis apartment in the early morning hours after a no-knock search warrant was used.
Both incidents, however, highlighted this year, legally speaking. MSR legal expert and law professor Angi Porter last week offered her Afrocentric analysis as well as a look toward the upcoming new year.
A former local discrimination investigator and vice-president of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, Porter now teaches torte, higher education law, and Africana legal studies at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. where she joined the faculty this school year.
“I think that is a huge tragedy,” she said of the Locke killing. “He should be alive today, and somebody should have been held responsible and nobody has. Like most people, I was taken aback when no criminal charges were brought against anyone who was involved in the killing.
“It just didn’t make sense. There are people who will tell you how it made legal sense. I am not of that variety.”
As a seasoned lawyer, Porter spent several years as a litigator at Dorsey & Whitney law firm and once clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis. She understands the legal process and how it can be frustrating, especially when it involves a Black person killed by police.
“The fact is that there was no attempt to redress that killing…and I don’t know what the motivation was [for not filing criminal charges],” continued Porter.
The law professor did highlight some successes in the courtroom this year, such as the three former Minneapolis police officers charged and found guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Floyd was killed in 2020.
“I think people start to see just how long the criminal process can take… Unfortunately, it is just part of the legal lifespan of the case,” explained Porter. “That was a big lesson for the George Floyd-related proceedings this year.”
But like many Blacks, she admitted she is bothered by how law enforcement still protects its own when it comes to civilian shootings, and even more so when it comes to shooting Black people: “We know that it’s never-ending.”
She strongly suggested that the public remain ever vigilant “where officers who participate in the murder [of a Black person] now have to protect the narrative and the legacy. Check the talk about these incidents. As soon as we have the truth to come out of these trials—and sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.
“Now we have a full frontal assault on the truth,” she said.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.