Crime, Law and Justice

Minneapolis activists call on Klobuchar to drop presidential bid

Michael Toussaint, left center, the father of Myon Burrell
Michael Toussaint, left center, the father of Myon Burrell, speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Government Center in Minneapolis as local activists respond to an Associated Press investigation that uncovered new evidence and numerous inconsistencies in the Tyesha Edwards case that sent Myon Burrell to prison for life.
Jim Mone | AP Photo

Members of civil rights and social justice organizations gathered in Minneapolis Wednesday to call for Sen. Amy Klobuchar to drop out of the presidential race. They cite a news story about a teenager who may have been wrongly convicted of a deadly shooting.

Klobuchar led the Hennepin County Attorney's Office during the first trial of Myon Burrell, who was sentenced to life in prison for killing 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards 17 years ago.

Burrell's father, Michael Toussaint, said Klobuchar has been using his son's conviction as a campaign issue.

"Somebody asked, 'Why did you bring her up?' Because she brought my son up, herself. She's the one who opened this up,” he said.

Civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong said Klobuchar should withdraw from the race.

"As a community we have consistently called into question Amy Klobuchar's record as a prosecutor and her tough on crime approach that played a role in Myon Burrell being incarcerated along with numerous other young African American men during that time period," she said.

An Associated Press investigation into the 17-year-old case uncovered new evidence and myriad inconsistencies, raising questions about whether the teen was wrongfully convicted

The AP reviewed more than a thousand pages of police records, court transcripts and interrogation tapes, and interviewed dozens of inmates, witnesses, family members, former gang leaders, lawyers and criminal justice experts.

There was no gun, fingerprints or DNA. Alibis were never seriously pursued. Key evidence has gone missing or was never obtained, including a convenience store surveillance tape that Burrell and others say would have cleared him.

Burrell, now 33, has maintained his innocence, rejecting all plea deals.

His co-defendants, meanwhile, have admitted their part in Tyesha’s death. Burrell, they say, was not even there.

Klobuchar's campaign has referred questions about the Burrell case to the current Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office. And the campaign has said any new evidence should be turned over to the court.

Freeman’s office said it’s confident the correct person was convicted but it’s always open to reviewing new evidence.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.