BY ED FELIEN
I think Tony Bouza is correct to begin his analysis of the Terrance Franklin homicide with an account of Franklin’s encounter with police Sgt. Katherine Smulski. Smulski heard a burglary suspect had returned to the Greenleaf apartment building on Lyndale Avenue South. The apartment’s security camera footage shows Smulski’s squad car pulling into the parking lot just as Franklin was driving out. Smulski threw open her car door, trying to block Franklin’s exit. He bumped her door and kept going. She announced to every squad car, everyone at central communications, and to the tactical squad already on its way, that Franklin “attempted to kill me.”
That phrase, shouted to the entire MPD, began a holy crusade and a justification for use of maximum force.
Did he try to kill her?
He was trying to get out of there as quickly as possible. She threw something in his way, and he knocked it aside with his car. He drove the car a couple of blocks and then ditched it. There was a young woman in the car with him and her two children in the back seat. He probably didn’t want to drag them into his problems.
Franklin jumped out of the car, ran into a bike shop, couldn’t find a back door, and ran back out the front door. He was looking for a place to hide. He ran down the alley and tried the back door at 2717 Bryant. It was locked. He broke the glass, unlocked the door and ran down into the basement. He hid under the stairway.
The tactical squad with the canine unit found him. According to the reports of the officers involved, they pulled him out and hit him, then hit him again with a flashlight. He went back behind the stairs. They pulled him out. This time he ran across the room into Sgt. Mark Durand, gained control of his MP5 automatic machine gun pistol, turned around and shot Officers Michael Meath and Ricardo Muro. Then, Officer Lucas Peterson charged Franklin and shot him.
Peterson’s self-aggrandizing story is preposterous: in a blaze of machine gun fire, he charged the suspect, grabbed him by the hair and shot him in the right temple. Since Franklin was facing Peterson, assuming Peterson is right-handed, he would have had to twist his arm into a contortion to be able to shoot Franklin on the right side of his head.
There were no eyewitnesses, other than the officers. But outside the basement and across the street, Jimmy Gaines was recording the activity with an iPod Touch with video capacity. The sound recording told a different story. At second 11 you can hear, “Officer shot.” Then, at seconds 25 and 26: “Watch out for the nigger!” and “Damn freaking nigger!” At 27 seconds, Franklin says, “Man, let me go.” At second 43: “Come out little nigger. Don’t go putting those hands up now.”
From the sound recording it is reasonable to assume that Franklin was still in the cubbyhole under the stairway when you hear, “Officer shot,” and that not until 32 seconds later does he come out with his hands up.
Certainly, there are enough inconsistencies in the officers’ statements compared to the sound recordings that County Attorney Moriarty should reopen the investigation. The public deserves to know what happened to Terrance Franklin on May 10, 2013, in the basement of 2717 Bryant Ave. S.
And, given the obvious lies and inconsistencies in the officers’ statements, the Minneapolis city attorney and the MPD administration should investigate whether these officers violated Minnesota Statute 609.505, Falsely Reporting Crime. That will be an important test of whether Mayor Frey and his administration are serious about holding our Minneapolis police accountable.