Treptow: The Theory

Ed and I talked about this theory with Joel Rosenberg on the NARN show the other day – and since Joel mentioned it on his blog yesterday, I figured I’d elaborate. 

I’ve been talking with some lawyer friends of mine about the Treptow case. By no means can I take credit for all of the reasoning (or, heh heh, legal literacy) below. I will, however, claim to be the first person to consolidate all of this info and publish it.

Here are the facts as we know them, with some law-based asides interspersed:

  1. Martin “Scott” Treptow, in an SUV with his pregnant wife and two small children, and Robbinsdale Police officer Landen Beard, in a sporty little red car, exchanged gestures, words, and aggressive maneuvering. Pesky Legal Point: By continuing to drive, he established that he was not a willing participant in the altercation.
  2. Treptow pulls up to a stoplight – behind another car, in the right lane.
  3. Beard pulls up next to him, on the right. Pesky Legal Point: At this point, Treptow was reasonably unable to disengage any further.
  4. Words are exchanged. What words? Again, we’re not entirely sure, but more on that later.
  5. Someone pulls a gun. Who drew first – Treptow, in his SUV full of kids, boxed in at a stoplight, or Landen Beard? We don’t know – not officially. More below. We do know that Martin Treptow’s story – that Beard boxed Treptow in at the stoplight, unable to move, threatened Treptow, and then drew a gun and pointed it at the pregnant Rebecca Treptow – has stayed consistent from the first 911 call. Pesky Legal Point: assuming Treptow’s version of the incident is correct, that would constitute a “threat of death or great bodily harm” that a jury would find compelling. – if they had to hear about it.  But they don’t.  Because Treptow won’t be defending himself against any sort of Assault or Attempted Murder charge, where he’d have to prove self-defense at all.
  6. Martin Treptow fired three shots, wounding Beard about as superficially as is possible under the circumstances. Pesky Legal Point: Self-defense with lethal force requires that the force used be “reasonable”. You can’t spray fire indiscriminately; you can’t shoot your target when he’s down and incapacitated.   Again, irrelevant, since Treptow won’t need to defend his claim of self-defense.
  7. Rebecca Treptow called 911 on her cell phone as her husband drove to a convenience store and reported the shooting, apparently not knowing that Beard was an undercover cop. Pesky Legal Point: this is necessary; one may not “shoot in self-defense” and then just let the chips fall. Indeed, the record shows that Rebecca Treptow was the first person to call 911 about the incident.
  8. Police responded – told at first that Treptow was the “victim” defending himself against a road-rager, and then that Beard was a cop and Treptow was a suspect.
  9. Treptow was arrested, and taken to the Anoka County jail, where…
  10. …the next day, he was released. No arraignment, no charges. He didn’t even have his Concealed Carry permit revoked – which would have taken the Anoka sheriff five minutes, and is basically pro forma in cases when there’s the faintest doubt. Which – after a day of interviewing witnesses, there apparently was not. Inconvenient Legal Point: At this point, the Anoka County Attorney could have charged Treptow with whatever charges applied, had Treptow’s claim of self-defense not stood up (i.e, not met the four criteria for self-defense – that he was an unwilling participant, and that he reasonably feared death or great bodily harm, made reasonable efforts to disengage, and that he used reasonable force. The charge would have been something involving violence against a person; assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder.
  11. Months later, Anoka County convenes a Grand Jury. Legal Point: the Grand Jury only hears the prosecution’s side of the story; no defense is offered; Treptow didn’t even have an attorney available to him. And the Grand Jury refused to bring any of the big charges – the various flavors of assault or attempted murder, the kind one would expect from a wrongful claim of self-defense -against Treptow. Rather, they brought three charges that were…well, we’ll get to that below.

The Grand Jury, while refusing to indict Treptow for any type of Assault or Attempted Murder, did return three indictments:

Let’s look into these.

Remember – a defendant in the United States is innocent until proven guilty. And the prosecutor has to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt every “element” of the offense to get the conviction. The defense has to provide one (or better yet, twelve) jurors a “reasonable doubt” of any of the elements of the charge to get the acquittal.

And – and this is important – as I understand it, none of the charges in the indictment has a “lesser included” charge; for example, if someone is charged with First Degree Murder, and a jury doesn’t find that the prosecution met the burden of proof for First Degree, but did for Second Degree murder, the jury can vote to acquit for First Degree, but convict for the “lesser included” charge of Second Degree Murder. But the jury may not vote to acquit Treptow of “Drive-By Shooting”, but convict for the lesser-included charge of, say, “Reckless Driving”, because it doesn’t exist; the “Drive By Shooting” indictment has no lesser included offenses. (Lawyers – so far, so good?). Ditto for the other two charges; the jury has to find Treptow guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of every element of the other charges, or…nothing. They can’t unilaterally ratchet the charges down to something else.

Let’s look at the first charge, “Drive By Shooting”, (MS 609.66 sub 1e). The ordinance says (with emphasis added):

Subd. 1e. Felony; drive-by shooting. (a) Whoever, while in or having just exited from a motor vehicle, recklessly discharges a firearm at or toward another motor vehicle or a building is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years or to payment of a fine of not more than $6,000, or both.

(b) Any person who violates this subdivision by firing at or toward a person, or an occupied building or motor vehicle, may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

The prosecutor needs to prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That Treptow was in a motor vehicle. Nobody argues this: Treptow’s admitted as much.
  2. That while in the motor vehicle Treptow discharged a firearm. Again, no argument.
  3. That the discharge of the firearm was reckless. Fussy Pointillistic Legal Point: And there’s your reasonable doubt. Treptow was responding to a legitimate fear of death or great bodily harm, while an unwilling participant in the incident, while using force that was apparently reasonable enough that the Grand Jury refused to indict for assault. Under those conditions, self-defense is a right – and had Treptow acted “recklessly”, there’d be no legitimate claim to self-defense.  Had there been the faintest hint of “recklessness”, Treptow would have been charged with some flavor of Assault or Attempted Murder, probably before being released from jail last June.  He would not  have been released uncharged, without bail, and with his carry permit un-suspended.
  4. That the reckless discharge of the firearm from the motor vehicle was towards an occupied motor vehicle. Hypothetical Legal Point: Although the defense counsel can argue in the alternative – sort of a legal, rhetorical “I’m not saying, but…what if” defense – that Treptow wasn’t trying to shoot toward an occupied car, in theory…well, you see how this works, right?

So – how about “Reckless Discharge of a Firearm”? Again – if the prosecutor can’t prove “reckless” behavior for the Drive-By Shooting charge, the same should go for this count. In State v. Richardson, 670 N.W.2d 267, 283 (Minn. 2003) , the Minnesota Supreme Court has said “reckless discharge of a firearm . . . requires proof that the defendant intentionally discharged a weapon in a municipality in a manner that the defendant should have known created an unreasonable risk of harm to others.” Legal Point: Self-defense – especially the whole “force used was reasonable” bit – should take care of that “unreasonable risk of harm to others” bit.  Remember – had the force Treptow used not been “reasonable”, he’d have been charged for it months ago.

Onward to the Terroristic Threat charge.

Subdivision 1. Threaten violence; intent to terrorize. Whoever threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, vehicle or facility of public transportation or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. As used in this subdivision, “crime of violence” has the meaning given “violent crime” in section 609.1095, subdivision 1, paragraph (d).

Let’s break it down:

  • A person threatens directly or indirectly to commit a crime of violence
  • The threat has the purpose of terrorizing another

This one boils down to one question; can the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Treptow threatened, directly or indirectly, to commit a crime of violence, for the purposes of terrorizing Landen Beard?

Before you answer that, remember – self-defense is not a crime. (Assault is – but Treptow isn’t on trial for that. The Grand Jury refused to return that indictment).  And then there’s the little matter of “what will the eyewitnesses say?”.  And while nothing official (beyond the 911 transcripts) is known about the eyewitness accounts, rumor has it that one or more eyewitnesses pretty completely corroborate Treptow, and impugn Officer Beard.

Now, the Anoka DA knows this. They KNOW they have a crappy case against Treptow.

So why bring it?

So here’s a theory for you; the Anoka County Attorney brought the three indictments against Treptow as a dog and pony show to cover the county’s ass from:

  1. the civil action that Martin Treptow will bring against (at least) the Robbinsdale PD when he’s acquitted on all charges.
  2. the administrative action that Robbinsdale might eventually bring against Officer Beard – which, procedurally, it can not bring until all court action is resolved (because the administrative action against Beard depends in part on the outcome of the court cases).

As to Officer Beard’s indictment for Terroristic Threats – well, there’s some other info out there that’ll come out at trial, assuming the case isn’t dismissed. Stay tuned; the legal maneuvering could get REALLY interesting.

Anoka County’s actions so far – the Grand Jury, the (arguably) potemkin indictments combined with the Grand Jury’s *refusal* to indict for any type of assault or attempted murder – might tend to indicate that the county is punching its procedural tickets, to…:

  • keep the county attorney from looking like he’s selling a cop down the river
  • help shield Anoka County (and, maybe, Robbinsdale) from civil litigation after the criminal cases are resolved.

So to sum up: Anoka County, under pressure to do something about the case, brings three indictments against Treptow that pretty much any lawyer can see will be relative cakewalks to win in court. It’s a CYA exercise, whose denouement won’t take place in a courtroom.

At least, not a criminal one.

PS:  Again, the Treptow Defense Fund:

Martin and Rebecca Treptow
Anoka Hennepin Credit Union,
3505 Northdale Blvd. N.W.
Coon Rapids, MN 55448.

The Treptow Fund

Joel Rosenberg and I had an interesting time talking about the Treptow case on the show today. And I don’t mean “interesting” in the classical Hindu sense of the term, either.

Expect much more coverage on this blog over the next few months; this case isn’t going to get any less interesting, that’s for sure.

As I promised on the air, here’s the address to help out the Treptow defense fund.  While my opinion of Treptow’s legal position has changed very much for the better in the past few days, there’s no way around the fact that defending oneself against a felony charge is expensive.  If you have a post-holiday buck or two to share…:

Martin and Rebecca Treptow
Anoka Hennepin Credit Union,
3505 Northdale Blvd. N.W.
Coon Rapids, MN 55448.

Stay tuned, natch.

The 900 Pound Gorilla

Last June, Martin Treptow shot Landen Beard.

Beard – an undercover Robbinsdale cop – was alleged (by Treptow and eyewitnesses) to have been in a road-raging snit.

The rest of the story is very much in contention, although according to witnesses it seems to have gone a little something like this:

  1. Treptow, in an SUV with his pregnant wife and two small children, and Beard, in a sporty little red car, exchanged gestures, words, and aggressive maneuvering.
  2. Treptow pulls up to a stoplight – behind another car, in the right lane. 
  3. Beard pulls up next to him, on the right.
  4. Words are exchanged. What words? We’re not entirely sure, but more on that later.
  5. Someone pulls a gun. Who drew first – Treptow, in his SUV full of kids, boxed in at a stoplight, or Landen Beard? We don’t know – not officially.  More below.
  6. Martin Treptow fired three shots, wounding Beard about as superficially as is possible under the circumstances.
  7. He then drove to a convenience store and reported the shooting, per state law in self-defense cases, apparently not knowing that Beard was an undercover cop.
  8. Dozens of cops from every possible jurisdiction (rumors that cops sped in from Inver Grove Heights and Owatonna are apparently unfounded) responded, apparently believing Martin Treptow was John Dillinger sprung from the grave.
  9. Treptow was arrested, and taken to the Anoka County jail, where…
  10. …the next day, he was released. No arraignment, no charges. He didn’t even have his Concealed Carry permit revoked – which would have taken the Anoka sheriff five minutes, and is basically pro forma in cases when there’s the faintest doubt. Which – after a day of interviewing witnesses, there apparently was not.
  11. And from that first 911 call, at 37 seconds after 2:36PM on June 7, the Treptows’ story has stayed rock-solid consistent, while that of Officer Landen Beard has…well, pretty much remained as undercover as he and all of official Minnesota has claimed he was at that moment.

It apparently took six months to introduce doubt into the case; the Anoka County grand jury yesterday indicted Martin Treptow. Joel Rosenberg has the whole, depressing story:

Well, the book has been thrown at Martin S. Treptow. He’s been charged in Anoka County, with:

1. Drive by shooting. MS 609.66 subd 1e(b) — felony, up to ten years.

2. Reckless discharge in municipality sub 1a(3) — ditto, up to two years.

3. Terrorist threats. 609.713 sub (1) — ditto.

We’ll see what the next step in the railroading of Treptow and the whitewashing of Beard is tomorrow, when Landen Beard appears in Anoka County Court to have his wrist slapped.

Given the recent revelations that the “investigators” in the case have gone to the Saint Paul PD to dig up dirt about…not Martin, but Rebecca Treptow, it looks to the casual observer like the Anoka County “justice” system is covering the backs of their Robbinsdale PD colleagues.

Beard’s indictment is scheduled for today. We’ll see what happens.

Remember – the jury has the final word on this case. This is far from over.

Or it should be.  Martin Treptow isn’t loaded – not even close.  And this case could embarass the hell out of the Robbinsdale PD and, given its behavior for the past six months, Anoka as well.  My two cents:  Anoka County is throwing the book at Treptow, dredging up the worst possible assortment of felonies (and absurd ones, at that), to try to induce him to take a plea bargain rather than spend his family’s entire future defending himself against the combined weight of every law enforcement agency in the Metro.  If Treptow takes the plea, then the story of Officer Landen Beard, and all of the questions his behavior that day introduce into the story, disappear. 

And those questions are big, nasty ones, if you believe in running a police department with a reputation for integrity: 

  1. Why was Landen Beard – a Robbinsdale officere – operating undercover in Anoka? 
  2. Who initiated, and carried on, the “road rage” incident?
  3. Given that one of the three big rules of shooting is “know what your backstop is”, why did Landen Beard point a pistol at a pregnant woman and a car with two small children in the back?
  4. Who drew their gun first – Beard or Treptow? 
  5. If the Anoka Sheriff thought Martin Treptow’s story was convincing enough to let him go on June 8, without even the inconvenience of suspending his carry permit, and yet the Grand Jury “found” evidence of three felonies, who dropped the ball?  Or was it a ball drop at all?

My hunch – and that’s all it is – is that the various jurisdictions involved know that the answers aren’t pretty, and want to do whatever they can to shut Treptow up and get the answers sealed in a court file, never to surface during the careers of anyone in office today.

Again, just a hunch.

If you’d like to help…:

Martin and Rebecca Treptow
Anoka Hennepin Credit Union,
3505 Northdale Blvd. N.W.
Coon Rapids, MN 55448.

UPDATE:  Joel isn’t the only local blog covering things.  Doug at Northern Muckraker – one of the most-improved blogs in the area – has been writing about the Treptow case:

Remember how I had previously written about Fox9 News’s coverage, and how they conveniently forgot to mention Beard’s name in their coverage of the story while putting Treptow’s name and face all over their airwaves, and how they also neglected to disclose their little conflict of interest, as Beard was the fiance (and now, apparently, the spouse) of one of their employees? The games continue, apparently.

Watch this clip of the update report Fox9 did this evening on the story. Notice how they have lots of video shots of Treptow, and how they manage to show a slow pan of the page of the indictment showing his name and full address, not once, but twice, in the report. No “1600 block of Pennsylania Avenue” courtesy for Mr. Treptow, as that is usually how addresses of presumed innocent people are reported.  

  And Flash at Centrisity shows that it’s not just a partisan thing:

I am ready for a rant, but will hold off until Beard faces the music today

As Joel notes, “the music” will likely be an indictment for double-parking. 

Stay tuned. 

UPDATE 2:  I added Point 11 to the timeline, the ugly questions, and bumped the story to the top of the blog for today.

UPDATE 3: Joel Rosenberg emails (and posts at his blog, I see) that Officer Beard’s been indicted:

One count of Terroristic Threats (felony, just in case there’s some gross misdemeanor); case moved to Washington County; next court date Feb 14.  My correspondent is sitting in on the press conference (whose?  I dunno) right now, but will scan the indictment and tell me more later…Treptow’s lawyer not in courtroom; Beard appeared with a bunch of supportive cops in doorkicker gear, to pat him on the shoulder, shake his hand, and wish him well. 

Bumped up again.

The Ham Sandwich

An Anoka County grand jury has handed down indictments in the Coon Rapids “Road Rage” case from last summer:

Two men involved in a road rage shooting incident at Foley Boulevard and 99th Avenue N.W., Coon Rapids, June 7 will make appearances in Anoka County District Court next week.

Martin Treptow, 35, Coon Rapids, is scheduled in court Wednesday, Dec. 19, 1:30 p.m., while Landon Beard, 27, Coon Rapids, is due in court Thursday, Dec. 20, also at 1:30 p.m., according to prosecutor Paul Young, assistant Anoka County attorney.

Young took the case to a Anoka County grand jury this week.

A couple of things to remember here:

  1. It’s been six months since the incident in Coon Rapids.  Shooting cops is, shall we say, unpopular, especially in the ‘burbs.  Had Treptow done anything genuinely illegal, the County Attorney could have indicted him almost immediately.
  2. But he didn’t.  As  a variety of Second Amendment bloggers reported last summer, Treptow was released from jail almost immediately (by the standards of these cases), and not charged with anything; the Anoka County Sheriff didn’t even bother to revoke Treptow’s carry permit, which is normally pro forma in these sorts of incidents.
  3. The Anoka County Attorney is as politically safe as any elected official in Minnesota. Indicting a “cop shooter” would have caused not a shred of political fallout.  But tossing charges completely?  That would have caused problems, if only between him and the various police departments with which he has to work.  So he sent the case to the Grand Jury.
  4. A couple of little birds tell me that the charges against Treptow are purely window-dressing, designed to further a cover-up of Landen Beard’s behavior that evening.
  5. Finally – more little birds tell me this case involved at least one egregious ethical violation by another metro police department in dealing with a media outlet that would seem to have, let’s just say, an unseemly link to this story.

Stay tuned.  And Joel Rosenberg always has the latest and greatest on this case.

Shots Fired – T+4.5 Months

Joel Rosenberg with the latest on the Treptow case.

Whatever can be said about the Anoka County Attorney’s office — and I think, in this case, that’s rather a lot, and none of it terribly flattering — they’re certainly not engaging in a rush to judgment.  Tectonic plates move faster than Robert M.A. Johnson’s office has on this — and, unshockingly, they don’t have a reputation for slothlike slow-motion in other criminal cases.  Paul Young, the assistant county attorney assigned to make this — to prosecute this case, does not have a reputation for requiring time-lapse photography to see him move.

Other news?  Finally, after quite literally months of no contact with law enforcement — not so much as a single telephone call from Dave Westberg, the Coon Rapids detective who claimed to be intensively investigating this back in June, nor one from the Anoka County sheriff’s office, nor the Anoka County Attorney’s office — Rebecca and Martin Treptow have been informed that they’ll be called to testify in front of the Grand Jury.

Read the whole thing, natch.

Shots Fired: Update

It’s been over two months since that afternoon in June when – depending on who you believe – either:

  • an irresponsible citizen who should never have been given a carry permit (under a law that should never have passed!) freaked out and shot a mild-mannered undercover cop who may have been acting a bit aggressively, or
  • a citizen, thrust into a situation no man should have to face when a stranger who’d been behaving in a threatening manner pulled up beside him when he was boxed in at a light, and pointed a gun at his wife, pulled his legally-permitted handgun and shot the aggressor – who turned out to be an undercover cop who was stretching the prerogatives of his badge all out of shape.

You recall the situation (and if you don’t, here’s a partial list of my coverage); the citizen, Martin Treptow, an out-of-work security guard with a legal carry permit, was taken into custody (absolutely normal in these situations, even if there’s not a cop involved) – and then promptly released without charge, and without his carry permit even being suspended (absolutely abnormal in these situations).

And since then…silence.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Indeed, as Joel Rosenberg and Andrew Rothman noted in Joel’s blog and in a couple of appearances on the NARN, less than nothing; the official silence has the appearance of a coverup, amid allegations (from sources with knowlege of the case and of the officer involved) that the cop behaved very improperly. 

Joel has the latest – and while it doesn’t read like a lot is happening, read closely:

[Anoka County Attorney] Robert M. A. Johnson…has empaneled a grand jury in the Treptow case.

What will be a secret — and is unlikely to leak directly — is what exactly will happen inside the grand jury room; by law, such proceedings are secret, and leak only sometimes.

That said, there are some things that are clear at this point:

1. There’s no legal need for a grand jury. If Johnson wanted to indict somebody in this, he could do it without a grand jury.

2. There may be a political use for a grand jury. Prosecutors can use grand juries to investigate complex cases — and this one isn’t that. The investigation was complete within days of the incident; all the witnesses that the Coon Rapids/Anoka authorities wanted to interview, and who were cooperative, had talked to the cops within hours, or a very few days, of the attack.

But a prosecutor can use a grand jury to indict a politically-difficult-to-indict defendant, or as an excuse for not indicting anybody. There’s an old saying: a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.

As Joel points out, Johnson is not politically vulnerable.  So the question is, which potential indictment is the political hot-potato?  Treptow, or “Officer Friendly”?

I am not a lawyer, but I strongly suspect that if Treptow were remotely vulnerable to being charged under the circumstances, he’d have been charged long ago.  Self-defense shooting is a tricky legal tightrope, with more legal pitfalls than dating LaToya Jackson; if someone’s going to screw up, it’s probably (I suspect) going to be obvious enough that a “hereditary” (see Joel’s explanation) county attorney isn’t going to worry about losing political capital.

But indicting a cop? 

Hm.

Joel continues (and I add emphasis):

A prosecutor can also carefully not present enough evidence to persuade a grand jury to indict anybody, and use that as an excuse — say, if the defendant is a public employee whose indictment would be politically embarrassing. “Hey; it wasn’t my fault. The grand jury refused to do anything.”

Finally:  

It’s not quite a guarantee, but it’s a very safe bet that Martin Treptow won’t be indicted. I wouldn’t be utterly surprised, though, if Rebecca Treptow was called in front of the grand jury — that would be, as far as I know, the first time that anybody involved in law enforcement would have so much as made any effort whatsoever to interview her since June 7.

(Yup, you read that right: the highly professional law enforcement professionals of the Coon Rapids PD, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, and the Anoka County Attorney’s office made, as far as I know, no attempt whatsoever to interview the key witness in more than two months of their “investigation.”  They certainly made no attempt to talk to her within the first month.  Gee, I wonder why . . . .)

Read the whole thing. 

CORRECTION:  Afternoon, not evening.

Shots Fired: Rumor Mill

Joel Rosenberg on the latest in the Treptow case – the June 7 incident in Coon Rapids where a citizen with a carry permit shot a road-raging driver who (allegedly) pointed a gun at his wife, and later turned out to be an undercover cop:

The only real news, such as it is, is a rumor.  (I think it’s likely true, mind you, but it is rumor, at the moment; I’m working to get a source on deep background or better).  Seems that Officer Friendly [Joel's pseudonym for the officer] has been kicked off the state Drug Task Force, and is back at Robbinsdale, working as an “investigator.”  He’s not a detective — not that there’s anything wrong with that; the title “patrolman” is an honorable one, and many terrific cops spend their entire career in that rank — but has been assigned as an undercover “investigator” to keep his name and his records from becoming public.  (Under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, if a cop is on anything but an undercover assignment, his name, his shift information, disciplinary information, etc., becomes public data.  While he’s on undercover status, it isn’t.)

Interesting.  Hypothetically, if a police chief were to be assigning a cop to an “undercover” role inspecting the break room to see if any of the doughtnuts have escaped, what would be the proper way to fix that? After all, the purpose of the exclusions in the MGDPA aren’t to give political cover from embarrassment to police officials. 

Rumors – all unconfirmed, all exactly that, rumors – indicate the officer might have a bit of a history of being a little boisterous. 

As to his police career, it’s been cooked.  He’ll never testify as a prosecution witness; it would be child’s play for a defense attorney to destroy his credibility on the stand with the events around June 7. 

But this can’t stand.  As one three-decade retired veteran of the MPD recently said, it’s important that bad cops be exposed and disciplined, or the stink rubs off on all. 

 And in a metro area whose crime problems are, in some areas, becoming out of control, maintaining confidence among the citizenry is important.

Meanwhile, from the Anoka County Attorney’s office — the office which will prosecute Officer Friendly for his actions on June 7, if anybody does — what have we heard?

Silence.

That can’t last long.

Shots Fired, Walls Stoned

I’ve been writing about the Martin Treptow case for about a month now.

The case – in which a citizen with a carry permit shot a police officer who was alleged to have been undercover at the time – has been a strange one to watch.  Treptow was never charged with any crime; his permit wasn’t suspected (normal, pro-forma, after a citizen shooting – and shooting a cop is anything but pro-forma). 

And then there’s the dilatory release of official details on the case.  Dilatory to the point of illegal.

Joel Rosenberg has a long, detailed post summing up the case…so far. 

You need to read the whole thing. 

From Joel’s “conclusion” (because this is nowhere close to over):

Mrs. Treptow told Anoka County 911 that; it’s in the transcript, in black and white.  Let’s be clear:  within seconds of the shooting, the Treptows have called 911, explained the situation, in detail — and notice how cool-headed both of them appear to behave, despite the fear and shock that comes through even on the transcript.  The entire Treptow family — husband, wife, and two small children –  quickly proceed to a safe place to wait for the arrival of the police.

“We’ve got kids in the car.  I got a five month old and a, a six year old.” 

But even though Mrs. Treptow has been very explicit that she and her husband have their two small children with them — and this is just horrible — the Anoka County authorities dispatch numerous armed men to arrest Martin Treptow at gunpoint, without informing those armed men that Mr. and Mrs. Treptow have their two small children in the car.

“We’ve got kids in the car.  I got a five month old and a, a six year old.” 

There’s a basic rule of gun safety:  know your backstop.  In this case, the cops’ backstop included two small, frightened children . . . and Anoka Communications, which had known from the beginning —

“We’ve got kids in the car.  I got a five month old and a, a six year old.” 

– that the cops’ backstop included two small, terrified children . . .

“We’ve got kids in the car.  I got a five month old and a, a six year old.” 

… didn’t even mention that. 

There’s lots I’m still wondering about, in all this.  I wonder who that phone call was from toward the end of the Anoka Comm Center tape, the one that was important enough for the incident commander to drop everything to take.  I wonder what’s been happening with the investigation of Officer Friendly, and why, a month after this incident, there’s been no arrest made in this case and no report on why.  I wonder why the local papers and tv stations haven’t been all over this, and I wonder what there is in the State Patrol stuff that we haven’t seen, and in the investigators’ notes that we’ll never see.

But why all the stonewalling?

No, I don’t wonder why that happened.  Not anymore, I don’t.

Go and read the whole thing.

Shots Fired

i’ve been following the story of the Treptow case – where a legal permit-holder shot an undercover cop who was allegedly behaving very aggressively, and finally allegedly pulled a gun on the man’s wife – since the beginning.

Joel Rosenberg’s been following it even more closely. Unaccountably, I missed his analysis of the release – the almost-complete release – of the relevant 911 transcripts, which he posted last Friday (actual transcripts here). 

Joel’s analysis (with some emphases added by me):

Some other items of interest, and/or comment:

  • Officer Friendly — see p. 6 — either didn’t notice or didn’t think to mention that there were two kids in the car
  • He identifies a “white male” and a “white female.”  [Remember this: the office notes no children.  It'll be important later.] That’s not redacted.
  • Any identification of Officer Friendly’s race, age, size and demeanor is redacted. 
  • One caller– see p. 4 — says he saw Officer Friendly pull a gun.  What’s not clear from the transcript is how long between that and when the officer got shot. 
  • That’s kind of important.  If you believe Officer Friendly’s story, he drew in response to Treptow pulling a gun on him — I guess he’d claim that retreat was neither practical nor safe.  Surely, if that was the case, he would likely immediately have shot the fellow who he thought was trying to kill him — after all, if you believe him, he didn’t draw the gun to further intimidate a guy….  A second or so gap in that narrative, and Officer Friendly’s story becomes less plausible, even without the other witnesses. His explanation — given that — then becomes that he didn’t shoot because he was afraid of hitting the kids that he didn’t see, the wife that he did, or that he froze under stress, and that he just left that out while he was talking on tape on 911.  Not impossible, but likely a hard sell. 
  • Occam’s Razor is a guide, and just a guide, but you have to assume a lot less complexity to read it as Officer Friendly drew his gun to intimidate Treptow, and didn’t switch gears into a killing mode quickly enough when Treptow, thinking that he and his wife were about to be shot — not being able to read Officer Friendy’s mind, but just see his unambiguous actions — drew and fired in self-defense.)
  • Same caller heard “arguing before.”
  • Officer Friendly, under stress, doesn’t have the plate number of Treptow’s Rendezvous SUV.  That’s understandable; he’s just been shot.  But, more significantly, he doesn’t refer to a previous 911 call in which he called in the plate number on this supposedly road-raging driver.  Could it be because he never made that call

Why was all mention of the officer’s demeanor redacted?  I’m smelling a Police union lawyer involved.  Understandable, of course, but curious.

I’ll continue to follow this.