Federal vs. state investigations into police

Federal vs. state investigations into police

MINNEAPOLIS - Department of Justice attorneys are in Minneapolis this week to interview witnesses to the shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police.

The federal criminal civil rights investigation is being conducted at the same time as a state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation.

As an attorney who's represented people for decades suing police officers for civil rights violations -- Robert Bennett believes the feds are more likely to fairly investigate police officers than the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

"You know, we have a joke around the office – we call them the bureau of criminal absolution when they're investigating the police," Bennett said.

In 40 years practicing law, Bennett says he can't remember a BCA investigation of an officer shooting ever resulting in a conviction.

"You know, I can't opine whether the officers will be indicted in either court. Because I don't' know the evidence. I just think the public and the constitution gets a fairer shake in federal court," Bennett said.

While state investigators look for evidence supporting murder or manslaughter charges -- Bennett says the feds look for whether officers deprived Jamar Clark of his civil rights -- his basic right to live.

"Based upon what I've read, this would be a very, very difficult case to prove," said Ryan Kaess, an attorney currently defending a different Minneapolis officer in a criminal federal civil rights case.

And Kaess insists a federal investigation is no more likely to end in an indictment.

"There's no different standard of proof that's needed. Same standard of proof and in fact, if the case is weaker, the feds aren't going to take it," Kaess said.

Governor Dayton said the BCA and DOJ are both working expeditiously, but in past cases Bennett said investigations like this can last up to a year.


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