Report: Police confronted, nearly fired on Franklin before basement fight

Terrance Franklin
Minneapolis police released this surveillance photo, which they say shows Terrance Franklin in the elevator of an apartment building shortly after a building resident placed a 911 call to report a burglary on May 10, 2013.
Courtesy of Minneapolis Police Department

Terrance Franklin wouldn't drop the keys.

An hour before police fought and killed him in a Minneapolis basement, officers confronted Franklin in a parking lot, ordering him to shut off the car and drop the keys.

Franklin cut the engine but then restarted and put the car in reverse, toward an officer and her squad car. Another officer lined up a "possible shot" at Franklin but didn't fire when he heard Franklin's passenger yell she had kids in the car. Franklin hit the squad car and sped away.

The near-shooting was among the new details revealed publicly Thursday as the Minneapolis Police Department released its 228-page report on the incidents that led to police killing Franklin May 10 in an Uptown Minneapolis house where he hid as police pursued him as a burglary suspect.

Police presentation of Franklin shooting evidence
Autopsy report: Franklin was shot 10 times
What's really being said in the Terrance Franklin video?

A grand jury found the officers involved in Franklin's death would not face criminal charges, although Michael Padden, an attorney for Franklin's family, has questioned police accounts.

The full police report also raises questions about the account the department released last week.

Padden said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit in 30 days, citing discrepancies in the investigation. Padden has said a cell phone video shows officers used racial slurs and that the autopsy report conflicts with police descriptions of the angle at which Franklin was shot.

Police Chief Janee Harteau issued a statement saying the department stands by its officers.

"A Grand Jury cleared all officers from any wrongdoing connected to this matter. The Minneapolis Police Department presented the facts of this case to the public in a detailed presentation last week. We respect the Grand Jury process and stand by our officers," she said.

Also included in the report were details about when the officers were interviewed. Most of them were interviewed within three days of the incident, but Officer Mike Meath, who was shot in the leg during the incident, wasn't interviewed until two weeks later.

In addition, it appears neither of the two officers injured in the incident were given timely blood tests to check for the presence of alcohol or drugs because a police union official stopped the tests, according to a statement by a Minneapolis officer. The blood tests are standard procedure following such incidents.

Last week's police account said Meath "made the decision to use lethal force."

However, in interviews with investigators detailed in the full police report, Meath didn't appear to have any recollection of making that decision as he lay on the basement floor with a gunshot wound near his right hip.

"I just remember being extremely scared and believing Officer Peterson and myself were going to die," Meath said, according to the transcript. "The next thing I remember was holding my firearm and firing off my last round."

Meath said he recalled "just bits and pieces of my memory, I couldn't remember for certain how many I had fired."

According to the report, officers and a police dog entered the basement and looked around for Franklin, using flashlights. The dog found Franklin hiding behind the water heater and pulled him out as Franklin kicked the dog, the dog's handler, Sgt. Andy Stender, said in an interview with investigators.

When Franklin failed to obey a command to show his hands, "I went farther into the room and punched him in the face as hard as I could," thinking he might have a gun, Stender said.

"The suspect just stood there and looked at me with a vacant deep stare and did not respond to my commands," Stender said.

He then struck Franklin in the eye with his flashlight. "Once again the suspect just stood and stared at me with a deep vacant stare," he said. Toxicology tests later revealed that Franklin had marijuana in his system.

Stender asked the other officers if someone had a Taser, but no one did. Stender said he pulled Franklin out of the area in a headlock. Another officer took over for Stender to hold Franklin, and then Stender said he heard someone yell, "Don't be grabbing for my gun, are you grabbing for my gun?" A moment later someone yelled "He's got a gun" and shots were fired.

Stender helped injured officer Ricardo Muro get out of the basement and said he didn't know what happened next in the struggle.

Two other officers struggling with Franklin both said he "exploded" out with force. One of them, Officer Mark Durand, said Franklin tackled him and slammed him into the dryer in the laundry room. He said he let go of his pistol grip to break his fall and then saw Franklin's finger on the trigger of his gun.

Another officer, Lucas Peterson, said he saw the suspect trying to find a target. "I remember feeling that I was going to get shot in the head," he said. "I knew from seeing the suspect's eyes that he was aiming at us."

Peterson said he then reached out for Franklin and brought his handgun close so he wouldn't shoot an officer. "I believe I shot [Franklin] two to four times," he said.

Peterson said Meath also shot the suspect.

The Minneapolis police department's account of the shooting said Franklin was shot eight times by police officers, while the detailed autopsy report found nine bullets entered Franklin's body, and one bullet grazed his scalp.

MPR reporters Curtis Gilbert and Rupa Shenoy contributed to this story.

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