ST. PAUL, Minn. — Test subjects who participated in a statewide law-enforcement training program are seeking millions of dollars in damages as part of a federal lawsuit filed today.
The six Twin Cities plaintiffs, all in their 20s, allege that officers in the Drug Recognition Evaluator program violated the civil rights of homeless people, Occupy Minneapolis activists, and vulnerable adults by giving them large amounts of marijuana to get high.
The group of five men and one woman is suing the Minnesota State Patrol and 27 officers who were involved with the state's Drug Recognition Evaluator program last spring. The plaintiffs are each asking for $1 million in damages.
Attorney Nathan Hansen said even if his clients were recreational pot smokers to begin with, they were treated like "human guinea pigs" by their own government.
"They may have not thought that at the time, or known that at the time, but it's certainly wrong," Hansen said. "And they realize it now, they're embarrassed about it, they were humiliated, and their dignity was infringed upon."
The Department of Public Safety declined to comment on the pending litigation. The DRE training remains suspended while an internal review of the program is conducted, said department spokesman Bruce Gordon. The Hennepin County Attorney's office declined to press charges last fall, citing insufficient evidence.
An investigative report by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension revealed that several officers in the program refused to answer questions from investigators.
Hansen said officers running the program were instructed to target Occupy Minneapolis protestors.