Public defender: Minneapolis police destroyed investigative files during last year's riots

Burned building.
The smoldering exterior of the 3rd Precinct building in Minneapolis on Friday, May 29, 2020. The building was burned down as protests over the death of George Floyd broke out in the city for a third straight night.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News 2020

Attorney Elizabeth Karp is asking a judge to dismiss a felony drug case against her client Walter Power because officers destroyed search warrants prosecutors used to build their case.

In a filing last month, Karp said police at the 2nd Precinct destroyed all non-active case files and those containing information about confidential informants. She said this was in response to protests over the murder of George Floyd, "as well as the burning of the 3rd Precinct."

Rioters did not target the 2nd Precinct in northeast Minneapolis.

Karp said police never filed the warrants with the court, and without them, she's unable to challenge a potentially unlawful search of Power's home.

In a memo from last March recently made public, officer Logan Johansson said that he and others at the 2nd precinct decided to destroy "all non-active case files" as well as those containing information about confidential informants.

Johansson wrote "this was in direct response to the abandonment of the 3rd police precinct by in Minneapolis by city leadership."

Department spokesperson John Elder said an internal investigation is underway "to understand what happened at the 2nd Precinct."

Just after 10 p.m. on May 28, 2020, protesters overran the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct station — one of the epicenters of conflict the night before — after officers withdrew. It was part of several days of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.