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Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Minneapolis, same cop, same claim that gun was planted

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Before Fong Lee trial, officer denied setup of drug suspect
By David Hanners
dhanners@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 07/25/2009 08:25:50 PM CDT


When the family of Fong Lee claimed this year that Minneapolis police had planted a gun on the teen after he was shot dead by officer Jason Andersen, they didn't know that, a year earlier, a drug suspect had accused the police officer of planting a gun in another case.

The man testified at his trial that Andersen — then assigned to the scandal-plagued Metro Gang Strike Force — falsely claimed he had found a revolver on him when Andersen arrested him.

As in the Fong Lee civil trial a year later, Andersen denied the allegation. A jury convicted Quenton Tyrone Williams of fifth-degree drug possession while carrying a handgun, and he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Williams is appealing his conviction; in a prison interview, the inmate maintained that Andersen planted the weapon on him as leverage to turn him into an informant.

"His words were, 'Can you get me anything?' His words were, 'I'll see if I can make my magic work,' basically to get me out of jail," Williams said. "He told me if I agree on the (interrogation) recording about the gun, he'd get me released."

Minneapolis police records show a .38-caliber revolver was turned over to the department's evidence unit after Williams' arrest. There is no record it was checked for fingerprints. Police did determine the gun had not been reported stolen, but the police report and six supplemental reports involving Williams' arrest don't indicate that the gun's ownership was traced.

Andersen has a court hearing Monday in Sherburne County stemming from the alleged June 14 assault of his girlfriend, Angela Lynn Nicholas, 29, of Howard Lake. He was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault.

Nicholas was also charged with domestic assault, but prosecutors dismissed her case.

Andersen, 32, has been on paid leave since Big Lake police arrested him. His six-week leave following the domestic assault arrest is in stark contrast to the two days he spent on leave following his 2006 fatal shooting of Fong Lee, 19, in a Minneapolis schoolyard.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous story continued said...

In that case, Police Chief Tim Dolan reinstated Andersen to duty even before the department's own investigators had questioned the officer about the shooting.

Andersen's attorney, Fred Bruno, said the officer did nothing wrong in the Big Lake incident. "The charge against Jason is either going to be dismissed or he's going to be found not guilty, one or the other," he said.

ANDERSEN WAS IN GANG UNIT

The officer joined the Minneapolis Police Department in August 2005, and was thrust into the spotlight 11 months later when he shot and killed Fong Lee. The shooting outraged many in the Hmong community.

Andersen said he began chasing the teen on foot after seeing another man hand Fong Lee a gun. The officer said that as Fong Lee ran, the teen turned, looked over his right shoulder, and then began raising his arm as if to shoot. Andersen said he feared for his life, so he shot Fong Lee eight times.

An internal affairs investigation found the shooting was justified, and a Hennepin County grand jury declined to bring charges. Andersen was later awarded the Medal of Valor, the department's second-highest honor, for his actions.

The dead man's parents and siblings sued Andersen and the city for wrongful death. The case languished in relative obscurity until March, when lawyers for the family filed a motion with an explosive claim: They said witnesses and a surveillance video showed the teen was unarmed. They said evidence suggested the gun found a few feet from the dead man's body was planted by police after the shooting.

The case went to trial in May, and a jury ruled Andersen did not use excessive force. (The lawyers filed an appeal last week.) On the witness stand, Andersen vehemently denied planting the gun, saying he had never touched it.

Under questioning by an assistant city attorney, Andersen told jurors about his career as a law enforcement officer, first as a deputy sheriff, then as a police officer in Elk River and finally as a cop in Minneapolis. He testified in detail about his training and experience.

But one thing he didn't tell the jurors, and the assistant city attorney didn't ask him about — he had been part of the troubled Metro Gang Strike Force. Stories of the brewing scandal within the unit had been in the news in the days and weeks before the trial.

In fact, the day Andersen testified was the same day Legislative Auditor James Nobles issued a report criticizing the unit's accounting and management. The report prompted Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion to close the unit temporarily.

The unit has since been disbanded, and the FBI and state officials are investigating the strike force's activities.

Minneapolis police spokesman Jesse Garcia said Andersen was a member of the gang strike force between April and October of 2008. But when the officer testified at Williams' trial in August 2008, he said he was a member of the strike force on the afternoon of March 26, 2008, the day Williams was arrested.

CLAIMED ANDERSEN PLANTED GUN

Andersen and another officer were in the city's Jordan neighborhood when they heard a radio call of a robbery. The call gave a description of the suspect, and Andersen wrote in a subsequent report that he saw Williams "running through yards" near the scene.

The officer later testified that as he was chasing Williams, the man turned and looked over his right shoulder, "and as he turned I could see it (the gun) sticking out of his jacket pocket."

Andersen apprehended the man. He said that as he handcuffed Williams, he asked him if he had a gun in his pocket. He claimed that Williams told him he did, so he waited until another officer arrived before removing the weapon from Williams' pocket.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous story continued said...

Although Williams had had prior arrests on suspicion of drugs, theft, robbery and domestic assault, he had only one prior misdemeanor conviction, in 2004, for failing to provide proof of vehicle insurance.

The robbery victim could not identify Williams as the perpetrator, but Andersen took him into custody for having the gun. The officer wrote that when they arrived at the jail for booking, Williams told him he had some crack cocaine hidden in his sleeve. The drug was confiscated and a drug charge was added.

Andersen questioned Williams the next day. In a taped statement later played for a jury, Williams said he had bought the gun a couple of months earlier for $100 from "somebody on the street" whose name he didn't know.

But before the trial began, Williams had claimed that he wasn't carrying a gun and that Williams had planted it on him. His defense attorney, Assistant Hennepin County Public Defender John Ryan III, did not ask Andersen about it, though.

In fact, Ryan's cross-examination of Andersen, the state's star witness, consisted of just four questions. He asked the officer if he could recall the name of the gun's manufacturer (he couldn't), whether the gun could be identified ("I didn't even try," Andersen replied), whether it had a serial number (Andersen said he didn't know) and whether he submitted it for fingerprint or DNA testing.

"I don't know if they did that or not," Andersen replied.

Ryan did not return calls for comment.

'I WAS COERCED INTO CONFESSING'

Kerstin Hammarberg, who supervises the Minneapolis Police Department's Property and Evidence Unit, said in an interview that records show that a five-shot .38-caliber revolver of an unknown make and model was taken as evidence in Williams' case. The gun had a serial number, allowing technicians to see if it had been reported stolen. It hadn't.

She said that there is no record the gun was checked for fingerprints or for DNA evidence but that not every weapon recovered from a suspect is checked for them. She said the investigator assigned to the case would have to request it, and that wasn't done in this instance.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous story continued said...

Williams, who is black, was the only defense witness. He said that when Andersen tackled him, the officer told him, " 'This will teach you not to rob people, my people,' referring to white people."

He then said Andersen planted the gun.

"He was trying to place a gun until a black officer came around the corner, all of a sudden," Williams told the jury. "Because he was all by hisself. He was trying to place a gun on me until a black officer came around the corner. Then he say, 'Hey, look what I got.' So I wasn't able to touch their gun, never touched it, and I was coerced into confessing that I touched it or that I had it, possession of the gun."

Williams claimed Andersen planted the gun on him as leverage to turn him into an informant. His taped statement about buying the gun "was forced out of me in order for me to get out of jail and go work for him to get crack cocaine ... I agreed to do a sting for him in order for him not to charge me with robbery," Williams testified.

He said that before Andersen questioned him on tape, the officer passed him a note telling him what to say about the gun and offered to help make the gun charge go away — in return for becoming a snitch. Williams said he wasn't yet aware that the robbery victim had not been able to identify him.

After Williams testified and the defense rested, a prosecutor called Andersen as a rebuttal witness. He denied Williams' story and said he didn't plant the gun.

Ryan's final defense argument to the jury was five sentences long. He reminded jurors that the judge and prosecutor had explained burden of proof and that the state had to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The defendant didn't have to testify but he did and he gave you his version of events," Ryan told jurors. "If you have reasonable doubt, you have to return a verdict of not guilty and I wish you good luck in your deliberations and actually do the right thing and follow the law.

"Thank you."

David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Sharon4Mayor_Surban White Guy said...

Read the 44 Comments finally got someone to agree with me Dirty Cops,Courts,CountyAttorneys,Committments
SUBURBAN WHITE GUY wrote:
Andersen is a dirty cop. I have said all along that the Fong Lee case was murder. This B.S. of a cop shooting some one and then getting off by saying " he feared for his life" has to stop. Recently a cop in Kasota murdered a unarmed guy in a bathing suit and he will also get off. The Minneapolis Police Dept. is corrupt. It took several cops to criminally assist Andersen so he could get off. Murder is murder and we as a society are allowing the cops to be the judge and executioner. These cops are as scummy as the folks they arrest. One of these low life cops has to be hung out to dry to stop this!

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"assist Andersen so he could get off. Murder is murder and we as a society are allowing the cops to be the judge and executioner."

WHAT????

No Jury??

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kasota incident was the cousin of a friend of mine, the family is seeking further investigation and taking legal for justice.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. That's quite the resume!

If this guy issues a press release stating he's also a colon rider he'd be a shoe-in for the Democrat endorsement for Governor!

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharon Anderson would be a
shoe-in for the Democrat endorsement for Minnesota Governor.
She's out for herself!
Didn't Pay House Taxes.
You will get three votes Sharon, yours, Alice's and Chris Coleman?

10:45 AM  

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