Minneapolis police officers destroyed case files, search warrants, and records of confidential information in May of last year during a protest over the death of George Floyd "in direct response to the abandonment of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis by city leadership," a move public defender Elizabeth Karp says has jeopardized her client's case, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Karp says the officers acted without oversight and against policy when they destroyed important evidence related to drug charges against her client, Walter Power. Evidence against him was obtained through cellphone data and search warrants.
Minneapolis police officer Logan Johansson said he and other investigators in the precinct made the decision to discard evidence to keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands.
"The data contained in these files could put the lives of CIs or various other cooperating defendants at risk," he wrote in a private police report obtained by the Star Tribune.
Karp is asking for the case to be dismissed and for the court to issue an order prohibiting police from "destroying or misplacing any more evidence related to this case.
"There is nothing to suggest the unrest that Minneapolis is experiencing will end any time soon," Karp wrote in court documents. "As such, this court must ensure the integrity of the judicial system remains intact and that all evidence used to build a criminal case ... is preserved.
"The main check on a violation of the Fourth Amendment is a defendant's right to challenge an unlawful search," Karp added. "Such a guarantee means nothing if the state is simply allowed to destroy the evidence."
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told the news outlet the department is investigating.
"We are conducting an internal investigation to understand what happened at the Second Precinct, how the decisions were made and whether there were broader issues with documents, records or files stored in our facilities during the riots," said Elder. "Any disciplinary decisions would be made through the normal process after an investigation."
Power, 36, was charged with first-degree drug sale on May 4 after officers found almost 3,000 oxycodone doses, along with MDMA and marijuana, in his duplex.
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