BY ED FELIEN
The five police officers involved in the Terrance Franklin killing have decided to get separate lawyers. That’s a big sign. It probably means Officers Andy Stender, Ricardo Muro and Mark Durand might be willing to tell the truth about what happened in the basement when Officers Lucas Peterson and Michael Meath shot Franklin.
They all claimed in the police report that Franklin somehow overpowered the officers and gained control of Mark Durand’s MP5 automatic pistol and shot Officers Stender and Muro; then, Lucas Peterson charged Franklin in the line of fire and shot him in the head.
For nine years Southside Pride has noted inconsistencies in this police report and demanded authorities reopen the case.
In the civil suit brought by the heirs of Terrance Franklin, new evidence was uncovered. A video of the police car outside the home on Bryant Avenue South heard voices from the basement broadcast through the police radio. After the initial burst of gunfire when Stender and Muro were shot, an officer’s voice is heard saying, “Come out little n —- r. Do not put your hands up now!” The jury agreed with the argument of Attorney Mike Padden that Officers Stender and Muro were probably injured by an accidental discharge of an MP5, and that Franklin was executed by Peterson and Meath as he came out from under the stairs.
This new evidence and the civil jury’s verdict have placed new pressure on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. He asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to re-examine the evidence, but the cop-sympathetic BCA said, “There is no role for the BCA in this case.” But both Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison have said the case needs to be reopened.
If Stender, Muro and Durand continue to go along with Peterson and Meath’s fantastical tale about how Peterson heroically charged Franklin, and a criminal jury finds Peterson and Meath were lying and convicts them of second degree murder – “Whoever causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person is guilty of murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years” – then they would be guilty of “609.495 AIDING AN OFFENDER. Subd. 3. Obstructing an investigation. Whoever intentionally aids another person whom the actor knows or has reason to know has committed a criminal act, by providing false or misleading information about that crime, may be sentenced to not more than one-half of the statutory maximum sentence.”
Janeé Harteau, the chief of police at the time, allowed the five officers three days to get their stories straight. They agreed they didn’t want to blame one of them for shooting Stender and Muro, so they agreed to blame Franklin, and they concocted a fairy tale where they’re all heroes.
The fact that they’re now each getting their own lawyer means they’re seriously re-evaluating whether belief in the fairy tale is worth spending 20 years in prison.