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Man to be sentenced Thursday for shooting undercover Minneapolis officer

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Man to be sentenced Thursday for shooting undercover Minneapolis officer


On Thursday, a man who pleaded guilty to shooting at – and injuring – a Minneapolis police officer will be sentenced.

As previously reported, Officer Jacob Spies – who was undercover at the time – was shot in the shoulder while in an unmarked vehicle by 19-year-old Frederick Leon Davis Jr.

Prosecutors say Davis fired at least 15 shots at Spies, and court documents say a bullet narrowly missed a main artery in Spies’ right arm.

Federal affidavit shows Minneapolis officer narrowly escaped death

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While Spies was released from the hospital later that night, he has since received the first-ever Purple Heart from the city, as well as a medal of honor.

2 MPD officers receive Purple Hearts for injuries sustained in the field

Last month, Davis entered a guilty plea to an attempted murder charge last month and is expected to receive a sentence that lasts at least 11 years.

Court documents state Spies was following a vehicle that was reported to be involved in a spree of robberies and carjackings in Brooklyn Park. It goes on to say one of two recovered guns was converted into an automatic weapon, which was linked to five different shootings in the Twin Cities area.

A teenager also pleaded guilty to his role in the case back in December. A woman accused of aiding Davis later had her case dismissed due to lack of probable cause.

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2 charged in shooting that hurt Minneapolis police officer

Teen arrested, charged in August shooting that injured Minneapolis police officer

Case against woman accused of aiding suspect in officer shooting dismissed

The sentencing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in Minneapolis. Check back for updates.

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OPINION EXCHANGE | This summer let's start treating the parkways like parks

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OPINION EXCHANGE  |  This summer let's start treating the parkways like parks


Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

•••

Recently when I drove down West River Parkway in Minneapolis, a car tailed me, then passed, barreling toward downtown way too fast to notice the flowering trees or see the hawk hunting from a dead limb. The same thing happened last week. And the week before.

Yeah, I’m that guy who drives the speed limit on the parkway — 20 miles per hour. It seems to really infuriate the drivers who want to use the parkway as a commuter highway.

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Minneapolis’ 30-odd parkways are called parkways because they’re actually part of a park. They run through park land and are managed by the Park and Recreation Board as public space for you and your family to play, forage, picnic, walk, cycle, skate and scoot.

But in the last few years a lot has changed to make some of the parkways feel more like highways.

The parkway I’m most familiar with — West River Parkway — has essentially become a commuter route for impatient families going to work, school, the airport or downtown, and hurried Amazon drivers making their deliveries. Few drivers heed the 20-mph speed limit. Very few slow to view an eagle passing overhead, and it’s rare that one would stop for a dog-walker in a pedestrian crosswalk.

Meanwhile, e-bikes, e-scooters and other e-rolling devices are increasingly popular and changing how it feels to take a family stroll through the park. The park board has set a 10-mph speed limit on bike paths, but if you’ve been on an electric bike you know that speed barely lets you feel a breeze. Very few people using an e-anything are going only 10 miles per hour. It can feel really scary when an e-bike whizzes by a 5-year-old with training wheels.

Minneapolis is famous for its parks and parkways and we should encourage more people to get out and enjoy them. I have four requests for the mayor, city and park board to make the experience more enjoyable and safer. Happily, none of these requires any change in existing, applicable law.

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Enforce the speed limit. Just a little well-positioned, recurring enforcement, with stiff penalties, would change driver behavior. Commuters need to realize they are driving through a park.

Move anything with a motor and wheels off the bike path and onto the parkway. Under current law all those electrified bikes and other toys are “motor vehicles” because they aren’t “moved solely by human power.” That means they don’t belong on the bike path. Let’s require all the e-rollers to use the road, which will help to temper the speed of the cars and make the parkway feel like it is, in fact, part of a park.

Street bikers who want to ride over 10 mph should be welcomed on the road. Many bikers who are out for exercise already ride on the parkways, but it’s not always a welcoming ride, with frustrated drivers often honking or passing too close. It should become the norm, not the exception, to follow a biker if you’re driving on a parkway.

Ask Google Maps and other driving apps to remove parkways from preferred routes. I don’t pretend to know how the mapping apps figure out a preferred route. But it seems they often disburse traffic from designed arteries to less-trafficked places, like parkways. (Are times calculated by speed limit or traffic flow?) We want our parkways to be a destination, not the fastest way to get to some other place. Announcing that to Google Maps might be a City Council resolution that the whole city could get behind.

The Park Board boasts in its ordinances that the Minneapolis parkways have “gained national and international fame for their history, beauty, and innovation.” If you’ve ridden the grand round, you probably agree. This summer let’s treat the parkways as deserving of that fame, as places we come to recreate, to exercise, to see plants and trees and flowers and bees. Let’s enjoy our parkways as a park.

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Kevin Reuther, of Minneapolis, is an attorney.



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Two arrested in connection to Minneapolis shooting

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Two arrested in connection to Minneapolis shooting


Minneapolis police said two suspects have been arrested in connection to shots fired early Saturday morning.

Police responded to 5th Street North and Hennepin Avenue after officers heard shots in the area. Police said they were then able to track and arrest two suspects who were booked for second-degree assault charges. Police also report they were able to recover two guns.

Minneapolis Police also reported a man called 911 from South 3rd St. and Nicollet Mall after he had received an apparent non-life-threatening gunshot wound. The man was later transported to a hospital.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Minneapolis politics post-Geroge Floyd: Four years later, what’s changed?

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Minneapolis politics post-Geroge Floyd: Four years later, what’s changed?


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MINNEAPOLIS — Four years after the murder of George Floyd, the close-knit South Minneapolis neighborhood that saw protests and provocative chants of “Defund the police” has mellowed −but certainly not forgotten − the death that triggered a national debate about social justice and police reform.

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As local leaders and residents explore long-term options for the corridor globally known as “George Floyd Square,” many question whether there has been any consequential progress on policing reform in the city since the tragedy.

“I can’t say nothing has changed, but we need more support to fully realize that change,” said Muhammad Abdul-Ahad, executive director of T.O.U.C.H Outreach, a Minneapolis violence prevention nonprofit. “People see things through different lenses.”

The quick push to defund

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on a defenseless Floyd’s neck in broad daylight for more than nine minutes. The horrific series of events was captured on cell phone video by Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old at the time, and sparked a national movement.

For decades, local communities of color demanded action to their claims of police injustices, which were validated by a 2023 Department of Justice investigation. Cries to defund the police from protesters were augmented as local politicians tagged onto the demand.

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In December 2020, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a budget that shifted $8 million from the police department toward violence prevention and other services based on city performance recommendations.

However, by 2021, many council members who wanted to disband the police began walking back their declarations. Some said defunding was not meant to be taken literally and some said it was up for interpretation. Only two members who called for defunding police still sit on the council, a number of those members gone did not seek re-election or were defeated in the polls.

“When it was asked to me, they were very clear it was getting rid of the police,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said recently to USA TODAY. “So, clearly, it meant many different things to many different people.”

Frey, who received intense backlash for rejecting calls to defund the department, was booed out of a demonstration by protestors when he said just as much.

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Despite scant demands for Frey’s resignation, voters largely rejected the 2021 measure to replace the police and Frey handily won reelection. Meanwhile, Minneapolis police’s budget has grown − from $181 million in 2019 to $210 million in 2023 − as homicides, burglaries, and thefts are comparable to last year.

“My position hasn’t changed from the very beginning,” the mayor continued. “I said very clearly, ‘We need deep reform, we need a culture shift, but no, I don’t support defunding the police.’”

Part of that culture shift also includes having non-violence initiatives as police try to regain community trust, Abdul-Ahad said.

“There’s an unbelievable amount of hurt and pain that people still have,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara told USA TODAY. “There’s no way of separating that trauma, whether it’s the people who live in the city and have lived through all of this, or the police officers from their experiences.”

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The city will open two new community safety centers to provide social service agencies. The South Minneapolis center will also house the third precinct police station.

As city leaders praise measures that formed after Floyd’s death such as the Behavioral Crisis Response program, which sends out unarmed and trained staff specializing in intervention and mental distress, some council members express concerns about contracts of “violence interrupters.”

“We’re boots on the ground. We were there when the police weren’t, and we’re still here,” said Abdul-Ahad, whose organization does not currently have a city contract. “I hope the council understands the urgency to figure this out quickly. It’s getting warmer outside and that’s when crime heats up.”

Justice beyond conviction

After Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, and the three other Minneapolis officers involved were convicted of violating his civil rights, Minnesota’s top prosecutor knew that the work towards justice wasn’t over.

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“Justice implies, for me, some form of restoration, true change,” Attorney General Keith Ellison told USA TODAY. “I always felt that we had to win this case in order to get justice, but winning the case wasn’t going to be justice.”

After the 2022 death of Amir Locke at the hands of another Minneapolis police officer, the state legislature passed restrictions on “no-knock” warrants. A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report found that Hennepin County requested and executed the most in 2022.

O’Hara took over Minneapolis Police in 2022 and said a big area of reform he wanted to work on was culture and interacting with communities by auditing bodycam footage and taking corrective action.

The Minneapolis Police Officer Standards and Training Board couldn’t revoke Chauvin’s license without a criminal conviction for the murder. In 2023, the standards changed, and the board can now revoke licenses for conduct violations and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

O’Hara oversaw the Newark Police Department’s consent decree, similar to Minneapolis’, to hold its department accountable for reform.

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“Our people are tremendous, they truly are. They’re just working in a broken system,” O’Hara said.

But Hennepin County District Attorney Mary Moriarty, who has singled out Minneapolis Police for not working closer with her office, has a different take. “We need all hands on deck here to support actual deep reform and we don’t have that here right now,” Moriarty said.

“There was a lot of optimism”

Four years ago, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, was hopeful the trauma her district and the Black community endured would start a transformation.

“There was a lot of optimism about what that moment could bring,” Omar recently told USA TODAY.

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Omar once championed the call to defund the police, but now, she said, instead of draining the force, she favors some resources put towards racial equity and community safety programs.

“[It] was an aspirational call, an outcry,” she said. “It’s something a lot of people hold onto and what is possible, the desire for there to be an allocation.”

She added congressional inaction on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act stalled hopes for federal legislation. “The lack of transformative change has been heartbreaking,” Omar said.

Abdul-Ahad said while many would like to move on from Floyd’s death, collective action and results will help make that happen.

“We’re not just trying to rebuild the city’s infrastructure, we’re trying to rebuild its character, the trust, the communities. Even love.”

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Sam Woodward can be reached at swoodward@gannett.com. Terry Collins can be reached at tcollins@gannett.com.



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