The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) announced two weeks ago that they had completed the investigation into the shooting of T.T. Franklin and forwarded their findings to the Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman.
The Star Tribune reported, “The case will get an initial review from the county attorney’s office before it is sent to the grand jury” (Star Tribune, June 7, 2013, “County attorney’s office to review Terrence Franklin shooting”). As Sportin’ Life would say: ”It ain’t necessarily so,” as all evidence is not in. How can the City or the Black community craft response strategies without a finished evidence report (DNA, finger prints, wound analysis, blood, urine, etc., etc.)?
On May 18, the MPD said it would take at least four months to complete the forensic investigation and four to five weeks for the final determination from the medical examiner. Why? Is the county attorney setting up a continuation of the “tradition” leading to another Grand Jury “no bill” indictment in the case of police killing a Black person? Let’s look at our state and federal civil rights “tradition.”
The last time a Grand Jury even came close to indicting a law enforcement officer in the death of an African American was 35 years ago, when a Federal Grand Jury failed by one vote to indict an Eagan police officer for the traffic-stop execution-style shooting death of the unarmed son of then-executive director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, Robert Benford. His 20-year-old son was home on leave from the United States Army.
The three African Americans on that Grand Jury were tenacious in their quest for justice, including the late Elmer Childress, the first and only Black commissioner for veteran’s affairs in the history of Minnesota.
We thought this was the beginning of a positive trend. We were wrong. No other Grand Jury has ever come close to indicting a White police officer for killing an African American citizen. Our long uphill struggle continues. We are reminded of the climb when we remember that the ending of the filibuster of the civil rights bill in 1964 was the first time in history the U.S. Senate had enough votes to cut off a civil rights bill filibuster.
There are questions we in the African American community must ask as the county attorney begins the process:
• Will the County Grand Jury hearing the case be all or mostly White?
• If we are told “minorities” are on the Grand Jury, what kind, as, in Minneapolis, “minorities” often does not mean African American?
• Will the instructions to the Grand Jury on how to interpret the evidence for determining whether to indict or not follow doctrines of fairness or racial bias?
• How will they make the case that the actions in that small basement space at 2717 Bryant Ave. So., Minneapolis justified the killing by five White SWAT officers and a canine as “normal and usual” to subdue just one young man instead of tasering?
• Will we learn the criteria given the Grand Jury to evaluate the evidence so we can see if it was honest and fair?
• Will Mr. Franklin’s DNA, fingerprints or blood spatter be found on the MP5 that he allegedly wrestled from one of the five officers, wounding two before he was shot and killed by another officer?
• How true is “one shooter” when the medical examiner says “multiple shots”?
• How credible will the story be of the custody and control of the weapon, as it is crucial in justifying taking a life?
• Will the illustrations and drawings said to reflect the officers’ recollections of fierce hand-to-hand combat be credible?
• How will it be explained to the Grand Jury how Mr. Franklin was so good in fierce hand-to-hand fighting skills that he could easily combat five well-trained policemen, disarming one, lightly wounding two, and then “have” to be shot and killed instead of tasered to be subdued?
• Will the forensic evidence provided include how many weapons were fired and how many times?
• What will be said about how many shots are required to blow half of his head away?
• How many places on his body received the “multiple” shots?
• Wasn’t the savage anger officers reported of Mr. Franklin really their own?
• How will the Grand Jury be instructed regarding how to weigh and determine if there was probable cause to use lethal force against Mr. Franklin vs. racial animus?
• Will there be a “no bill” — no indictment — leaving the history of Grand Juries in Minnesota and Hennepin County intact, sanctioning the shooting of young Blacks?
• Will the sentiments of a former Supreme Court judge prevail — since reversed, at least on paper — that the Negro has no rights that the White man is duty bound, legally bound, or morally bound to respect?
For Ron’s hosted show’s broadcast times, solution papers, archives, and how to order his books, go to www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. For ongoing following of the Franklin story, go to his Blog at www.theminneapolisstory.com.