In response to John Delmonico

john-delmonicoBY ED FELIEN

On Dec. 23, 2013, John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation (MPF), wrote an op-ed piece for the Star Tribune arguing that the Minneapolis Police Department should not seek outside investigators when MPD officers use deadly force. The proposal of Chief Harteau to use the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was temporarily shot down by Governor Dayton. It’s probably just a coincidence that Dayton was endorsed by the MPF in his 2010 excruciatingly close election.
In winter, the ancient Greeks prepared for the dramatic festivals in the spring and performances of the great tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and following each of the tragic trilogies was a farce where comic actors pretended great seriousness.
What happened in the basement of 2717 Bryant on May 10 was a tragedy for Terrance Franklin and for police/minority community relations. It’s tedious to quote oneself, but as I said in the November issue of Southside Pride: “According to police statements, when Sgt. Stender and Officer Meath pulled Franklin out of the cubby hole he at first resisted, then using their force against them, Franklin catapaulted past them knocking Officer Durand into the dryer in the next room. Officer Durand had an MP 5 automatic pistol on a shoulder strap that went over his head. It seems possible that Officer Durand could have lost control of this weapon, but it seems highly improbable that Franklin could have gained enough control of the weapon to turn around and point it at approaching officers. It seems much more likely that Durand got off two rounds, striking Officers Muro and Meath, before Franklin laid across him preventing him from lifting the gun up and firing it directly at him. Assuming Officer Peterson fired his pistol with his right hand, and from the medical examiner’s report we learn that Franklin was shot seven times in the right temple, we have to conclude that Peterson came up behind Franklin, grabbed him by his dreadlocks in his left hand and shot him with his right. And, it seems reasonable to conclude, if Franklin was facing Durand he couldn’t have fired the two shots at Officers Muro and Meath. Officer Meath claims to have shot Franklin three times while he was sandwiched in between Officers Durand and Peterson. This seems an improbable feat for a man slipping in and out of consciousness to be able to hit so small a target in a dark basement. It seems more likely that Meath shot Franklin while he was lying on the basement floor. The police and city officials should have raised questions about the police report. The case should never have been sent to the county attorney, who has to maintain a working relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, but should have been sent to the FBI and the federal district attorney.”
Chief Harteau has proposed that the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigate cases where officers of the MPD use deadly force. She has proposed a very modest compromise. I would prefer the FBI and the federal district attorney investigate, and if it can be proven that the MPD is consistently violating the civil rights of minority citizens, as it clearly did in the case of Terrance Franklin, then it may become necessary to obtain a court order in federal district court to order all cases where the MPD uses deadly force to be investigated by federal authorities. I believe this has happened before to the MPD.
John Delmonico’s argument after this tragedy is like the farce of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata following the tragedy of Oedipus. If you remember the play, Lysistrata has convinced the women of Athens to stop having sex with their husbands until they agree to stop the war with Sparta. The chorus of old men whine about this unfair treatment and beat each other over the heads with huge leather phalluses. John Delmonico seems to be attempting the same heavy-handed tactics. He wants to beat us over the head with his machismo: It’s the chief’s job to run the department. She can’t farm it out.
Please, John, we weren’t born yesterday. There is a thin blue line that all officers observe. They cover for each other. They testi-lie for each other. Chiefs come and go, but you’ll be working with your buddies for your full tour of duty. So keep your head down and don’t make waves.
John says, “The public can and should trust Minneapolis police officers.” That’s right, we should. But we don’t. The Terrance Franklin police report shows you are not worthy of our trust or our respect. It’s time to get serious about this, John. The MPD needs to prove it can protect and serve all the citizens of Minneapolis. And we need an outside source to evaluate that service and protection. The chief was doing you a favor by going to the BCA, and you bit the hand that was feeding you. Let’s agree to an outside evaluation authority quickly before the thumpers in the MPD find new ways to express their testosterone poisoning. One more incident like Terrance Franklin and there is enough evidence for a federal court injunction to tie the MPD up in knots. Let’s admit we have a problem, and let’s work together to get it solved.

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