Dr. Phil Stinson, professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University and the principal investigator for the Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database, joined Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits on Thursday to discuss the case and provide insight on how the investigation may progress in the coming days.
He said that it’s important to look at past cases handled by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Stinson noted that during a news conference announcing initial charges against Minneapolis Police Department Officer Mohamed Noor, Freeman declared that while it would be difficult for his office to get a conviction, they would be pursuing the case because it is the right thing to do.
Stinson told Sputnik that this action made it clear that Freeman’s office was more concerned with justice, rather than conviction rates like other offices.
Freeman has also gone on record before the 16-member working group on police use of deadly force, co-chaired by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington, and asserted that “officer-involved shooting cases are some of the most difficult cases,” according to Minneapolis outlet Insight News.
Despite the difficulty that may be present in obtaining justice, Freeman testified before the working board in August 2019 that his office has a “profound commitment to deal fairly, transparently and as professionally as we can on each case. We assign our most experienced people and allocate all the resources necessary to reach justice.”
However, the state’s investigation into Floyd’s death may be harder than imagined. It was revealed Thursday afternoon by Freeman that four officers fired in connection with the Monday incident have chosen to plead the Fifth Amendment and therefore refused to cooperate with investigators.
Derek Chauvin, the 19-year department veteran who was seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck in video footage of the incident, will be represented by Tom Kelly, the same lawyer who represented Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez is the Minnesota police officer who was acquitted in the 2016 killing of Philando Castile.
Stinson noted that when it came to the case of Noor, Freeman mentioned that “for the first time in his career, [he] felt that the Minneapolis Police Department was, in many regards, … stonewalling or trying to impede the investigation of the prosecutor’s office and that it took longer than expected to bring charges.”
He explained that Freeman’s usual “partners in law enforcement” had started “throwing up roadblocks” when it came to getting answers.
On the federal level, Erica MacDonald, the Trump administration-appointed US attorney for the District of Minnesota, has said that the investigation will focus on whether or not the case reaches the level of a hate crime. Local Minneapolis outlet Fox 9 noted that this means her office must prove “the subject took action or did not take action when he or she knew it was wrong and chose to do it anyway.”
MacDonald expressed that Attorney General William Barr and US President Donald Trump are actively monitoring the case, led by herself and Rainer S. Drolshagen, the recently-appointed special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Field Office.
Journalist Yamiche Alcindor noted that no further details were given on the investigation during MacDonald’s Thursday news conference.