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Hennepin County pays out $190,000 to settle complaint against Mike Freeman

Amy Sweasy, one of the office's top prosecutors, filed the discrimination complaint against Freeman with the MN Dept. of Human Rights
Credit: KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — The Hennepin County Board approved a $190,000 settlement with a top veteran prosecutor after she filed a discrimination complaint against County Attorney Mike Freeman.

As part of the the settlement, Amy Sweasy will no longer answer to Freeman. She will instead report exclusively to Criminal Deputy County Attorney Dan Mabley, a former judge now assisting the county attorney's office. 

Details of the complaint Sweasy made against Freeman to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights are not included the public settlement documents. Hennepin County Administrator David Hough signed the settlement agreement April 19.

Credit: KARE
The Hennepin County Board approved a $190,000 settlement with prosecutor Amy Sweasy after she filed a complaint against County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Sweasy's role within the office has been reclassified as a "principal attorney," according to the settlement, and she will now lead a new "Complex Prosecutions Unit" within the HCAO. The unit is intended to handle complex and significant investigations and prosecutions, including homicides, child and domestic abuse, sexual assault, cold cases and "matters related to career offenders," according to the settlement.

The new unit will not handle police use-of-force cases.

Freeman announced in September of 2021 he will not seek reelection as Hennepin County Attorney. 

Sweasy, along with fellow Assistant County Attorney Patrick Lofton, successfully prosecuted the state's first well-known conviction of a police officer killing a civilian, former MPD Officer Mohamed Noor, for his role in the death of Justine Ruszczyk. 

Sweasy and Lofton initially charged Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter following the death of George Floyd, but the two prosecutors then withdrew from the case days later for reasons Freeman's office never revealed. 

Attorney General Keith Ellison's office then took the lead on prosecuting the Chauvin case, and eventually added the more serious 2nd-Degree Murder charge the former MPD officer was convicted of. 

When reached for comment, Freeman's office provided this statement: 

"It has been my privilege to lead the Office of Hennepin County Attorney for 24 years. 526 employees are on the payroll today and thousands more have served in my tenure. The senior team in this Office has grown more diverse and six of ten members of the management committee are women. In 24 years, and among thousands of employees, no claim of discrimination has been found to be true. And that has not changed today.

The Minnesota Data Practices Act restricts the employer’s ability to comment on personnel matters.  But our office’s record as the most diverse public law office in the state says it all about our shared commitment to fairness. And we celebrate all the diverse leaders that have advanced into the judiciary and other leadership roles in the state. That’s our record."

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