3/21/2007 Newsletter


  • On Eve of Civil Lawsuitt, Cop Lies and Phony Charges Laid on Philander Jenkins
  • Kriminal Kop Kroll
  • Lurking Ordinance Update
  • Why Police Brutality Convictions Rarely Stick

Just Before Lawsuit Against Jindra Goes to Court, Cop Lies and Phony Charges Laid on Philander Jenkins

A well-worn groove has marked the treatment of Philander Jenkins since his first encounter with Minneapolis cops in 2003, in which he was savagely beaten and had his jaw broken by brutal cop Jeffrey Jindra (after which he spent 10 days in jail with no medical care).  Ever since that fateful day, Philander has found himself on the receiving end of increasingly desperate sets of charges, always announced a day or two before he goes to trial, and designed to smear his name and prevent him from receiving justice.  This is probably due, in part, to knowledge by Minneapolis and Hennepin County that if Philander ever gets his day in court, they will pay--and pay big.  It is also likely due to the fact that his assailant in the original incident is a bigwig with the Minneapolis Police Federation.  Philander has been acquitted of every set of bogus charges.  You'd think the Hennepin County attorney's office would get tired of this game, or at least tired of losing.

The latest round of charges, announced today, follows this same groove--but with a new twist.  Having virtually no actual evidence tying Philander to the crimes (and there is a LOT of evidence that shows he didn't do it, but we'll save that for the trial), the MPD picked up Philander on a phony pretext and then held him for five days trying to nail a double homicide on him.  Again, the timing couldn't be more interesting, coming days before his case against Jindra goes to federal court.  However, this time the cops seem to have another idea for dealing with their "Philander problem."

The two guys who were killed were part of the Detroit Boys, a group of folks who also have a keen reputation for looking out for one another.  It was interesting that even though Philander had not even been charged, half-truths and outright lies were being carefully leaked to certain parts of the community since last Thursday.  It would appear that the idea is to get people riled up enough to take action on their own against Philander, putting him in grave danger should some knucklehead not realize who is behind this.

By charging Philander with something as appalling as murder, they think they have made him indefensible to the community.  Well, they're wrong.  First, they have to prove Philander is guilty of this crime--and we don't think they'll be able to since there is a whole lot of exculpatory evidence (evidence that proves his innocence).  Second, we think that the community is smart and will see this for what it is--a continuation of their old smear tactics.  Even if people have doubts, they should at least have an open mind and let the facts speak for themselves.

To be clear: CUAPB continues to stand with Philander Jenkins through this latest set of charges.  We believe that he is innocent of these charges and that the facts will bear this out.  We will continue to stand with Philander until he receives justice for the gross injustices he has experienced at the hands of this system.

What follows is a press release from Philander's legal defense team:

A Minneapolis Police Officer signed a complaint against Philander Jenkins today, charging him in a March 14, 2007 double homicide at 2922 Dupont Avenue North. Here is the ?other side of the story.?
* On May 21, 2003, Philander Jenkins complained that police officer Jeffrey Jindra kicked him in the head and broke his jaw after he was handcuffed. Jenkins sued Jindra and the MPD. He is also suing the Hennepin County jail for failure to provide adequate medical care and other claims. The case is nearing trial in federal court. Negative media coverage of Jenkins could benefit Jindra and other defendants in the federal case.
* Since the May 21, 2003 incident, Jenkins maintains that the MPD has misused the criminal justice system in an effort to damage his credibility in the case against Jindra:

  • In 2003, Hennepin County District Court Judge Patricia Karasov suppressed a gun that Jenkins maintained had been planted in order to incriminate him.
  • In 2006, a Hennepin County jury acquitted Jenkins of charges that he filed a false sexual assault complaint against Hennepin County jailers - after the Defense showed the BCA had known since 2003 about vital hair evidence that corroborated Jenkins' claim. The hair, which was found in Jenkins' underwear, was reddish brown in color (similar to the hair color of an accused jailer) and was consistent with pubic hair. Jenkins was criminally charged for reporting a sexual assault, yet to date no criminal charges have been brought against the jailers.

* When asked if he would refer the current investigation to a more neutral agency, Chief Dolan said, ?No way!? despite the clear conflict of interest posed by the pending federal Civil Rights case against Jindra and the MPD. Hennepin County Attorney?s Office has also refused to refer the case to another agency, even though the County is also facing claims in federal court.
* Jenkins maintains that he is innocent of the latest crop of charges brought by the MPD, and expects facts will come to light showing that the MPD investigation was tainted. His lawyers caution against a rush to judgment in this case.
March 20, 2007
Attorneys Jill Clark and Jill Waite

Ask yourself: Why is this violent man still on the City's payroll?  It's even more disturbing that this guy is a bigwig with the Federation, which explains a lot about why they are forever defending brutal cops.

NOTE: Since this article was printed, we have obtained updated records from the Civilian Review Authority.  Kroll has had 19 allegations against him.  The sustained allegation has not been disciplined--which explains why this guy doesn't seem to get any better.

Shoot from the Lip
Meet Lt. Bob Kroll, the cop accused of calling Congressman Keith Ellison a terrorist
by G.R. Anderson Jr.
March 14, 2007

It's a week after the comment?the off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment comment that got him into so much trouble?and Lt. Bob Kroll is still trying to explain why he said it.

Sitting at his desk at the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation (he's vice president of the union), Kroll wears a Minnesota Wild jersey, sports a neatly trimmed mustache, and has the kind of build that wouldn't be out of place on an NHL rink. He speaks bluntly, and occasionally blushes with embarrassment.

It all started at a department ethics class, with about 20 other police officers, at the Minneapolis Northeast Armory. As Kroll tells it, he made a reference to the United States being at war with "Islamic terrorists." He then alluded to a certain congressman from north Minneapolis who happens to be Muslim.

That's when officer Gwen Gunter spoke up: "Are you calling Keith Ellison a terrorist?"

Their voices raised and soon the two were separated and silenced by the city attorney, who was conducting the class.

But that wasn't the end of it. Word of the incident spread quickly within the MPD and City Hall. By the end of the week, Kroll's spontaneous comment was front-page news.

The response from city leaders was swift. MPD Chief Tim Dolan sent an email to the entire department just two days later, on March 1.

"The alleged comments, if they in fact occurred, are unacceptable," the chief wrote. "[C]alling Representative Keith Ellison a terrorist is a prejudicial statement. The comment not only offends a U.S. representative...it offends our own officers of Muslim faith."

Dolan called for an investigation from the MPD's Internal Affairs Department. The city's Human Resources Department is conducting a separate investigation. Reportedly, Mayor R.T. Rybak expressed displeasure over the incident, as did a number of City Council members.

Yet for all the hand-wringing, few can say they were surprised. Especially considering Kroll's history on the force.

"This is consistent with the ignorance and arrogance of his life on the street," says Ron Edwards, a longtime MPD observer and chair of the city's Police Community Relations Council. "Robert Kroll's nightstick and boots have come into contact with many persons of color in this town."

Indeed, Kroll owns a lengthy record of brutishness.

In 1995, he was accused of kicking, beating, chocking, and using racial slurs against a 15-year-old boy. But a federal grand jury cleared him of any wrongdoing.

In 1996, Kroll oversaw an Emergency Response Unit that performed a botched drug raid. In the ensuing confusion, one MPD officer was shot by his own colleagues. (See "Friendly Fire," CP 9/9/1997.)

In September 2002, Kroll was involved in an incident that eventually led to a city payout of $60,000. (See "The Hit Parade Revisited," CP 7/20/2005.)

And in December, the city attorney recommended Minneapolis pay $15,000 to settle a suit accusing Kroll of beating and kicking a suspect in an impound lot downtown in February 2004.

"Bob Kroll's record in dealing with minorities speaks for itself," says former MPD cop Mike Quinn.

Kroll also has a track record with the Civilian Review Authority, the citizens' board that investigates complaints against Minneapolis police officers. According to the website for Communities United Against Police Brutality, there have been 17 allegations of misconduct against Kroll, but he was cleared in all but one of them.

As a result of that case, which involved an off-duty fight, Kroll was suspended for 20 days last month. According to nine eyewitnesses' statements in the CRA file, the scene went something like this:

Jack Mahaffey had been crossing the street in front of Dusty's bar on Marshall Street Northeast after 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night during the Art-a-Whirl gallery crawl. Mahaffey was a little tipsy, and his backpack hit a car. Two men dressed in jeans and T-shirts got out and confronted Mahaffey, punched him, threw him on the ground, and hit his head on the sidewalk.

As Mahaffey's friends rushed to help, the two men taunted them: "Bring it on" and "Come and get me, motherfucker," according to the file. Mahaffey's sister Flora was punched, and another friend was kicked in the face.

A passerby who was coming home from a shift as a loss-prevention officer at a nearby Rainbow Foods called 911 to break up the melee. After the other officers arrived, Mahaffey and his friends learned a shocking fact: The two assailants were off-duty MPD officers.

One of them was Kroll. According to the police report, Kroll and Wallace Krueger received medical treatment at the scene as "police victims," and Jack Mahaffey was charged with fourth degree assault, starting a riot, and damage to a motor vehicle. Kroll and Krueger walked away; Mahaffey spent the weekend in jail.

Eventually, charges against Mahaffey were dismissed, and he pursued a complaint with the CRA. Nearly three years later, the complaint was sustained, but Brian Mahaffey?Jack's father?is anything but appeased by the response he got from the city.

"I've seen nothing from the police department that indicates this is a big deal," Brian says. "How can he even still be on the force with behavior like this? Do we wait until Kroll gets cocked again and just wait for him to go off?"

Kroll defends his actions in the incident. "Wally and I were driving down the street and somebody flagged Wally down and damaged his vehicle," the lieutenant says. "Then all of his friends were attacking us."

Kroll declines to discuss other specific cases, but he denies any wrongdoing. "The persona of me is that I'm some big boogeyman," he says. "I've been told I'm racist, and I'm violent. I'm aware of that. I've been 15 of my 18 in SWAT, and I've had more complaints than most, but I've had much higher contacts, and a much higher number of arrests.... I've been cleared almost all the time."

The public portion of his MPD personnel file shows four letters of reprimand since he joined the force in 1989?at least two of which were tied to separate Internal Affairs investigations of him?and one suspension in 1994. (He was cleared on one of the IA complaints, but another was sustained in part for "failure to provide name/badge number.") Kroll was promoted to sergeant in 1994, but was "involuntarily demoted" in March 2003 related to complaints involving "code of conduct" and "duties of supervisors." (His rank was reinstated three months later.)

Kroll admits he's had a longtime beef with Ellison, who was an active defense attorney on the North Side before entering politics. "He's anti-police, and he once made a baseless complaint against me to internal affairs," Kroll says.

So does Kroll really think Ellison is a terrorist?


Does he have a problem with Islam?


But does he regret what he said?

Kroll doesn't hesitate: "No."

Plans are moving ahead to challenge the "lurking" ordinance in the City Council.  Cam Gordon plans to introduce the subject on March 30th.  Please make your plans to attend the city council meeting that day.  The city council meets at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall, room 317.

As Cam Gordon explains, "I plan to bring this forward to the City Council on Friday March 30 to introduce the subject matter for referral to the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee for a public hearing and recommendation. In order for it to go to the Committee a majority of the Council Members must vote in favor of the subject introduction. Your support could be very helpful."

Please contact your city council member and ask her or him to vote in favor of allowing the subject matter to be introduced.  Even if he or she doesn't support overturning this ordinance, democracy demands at the very least that hearings are held to allow the community to air our concerns.  To find your council member's contact info, go to http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/ While you're at it, thank Cam Gordon for his efforts by calling 612-673-2202 or emailing [email protected]

The article below refers to the recent indictment of the cops who shot and killed Sean Bell during his bachelor party the night before his wedding.  This case has commanded a great deal of media attention, while family members and friends continue an around the clock vigil to demand justice.  Even with all this pressure, there is significant history to suggest that the cops who killed Sean in cold blood will never see a day in prison.

Indicting NYC Cops Is One Thing, Convicting Them Is Another
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson,
March 19, 2007.

New York Attorney Phillip Karasyk minced no words when a reporter asked about the prospect that his client, New York City police officer Gerscard Isnora, will be acquitted in the killing of Sean Bell. Karasyk flatly said that he'd be vindicated.

This was not typical attorney bluster; the odds are that Karasyk is right.

The November 25 shooting of the unarmed Bell, a new bridegroom, and the wounding of two of his friends, stirred public rage and protests. And there was good reason to expect that some of the cops that fired the volley of shots that killed Bell would be indicted.

But expectations, not to mention witness testimony, seemingly unimpeachable evidence, and even the official condemnation of the deadly shooting by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won't guarantee that Isnora and the other two officers indicted are convicted. It's easy to see why.

When cops go on trial for overuse of deadly force, their victims are generally poor blacks and Latinos. The attorneys that defend them are top gun defense attorneys, and have had much experience defending police officers accused of misconduct. Police unions pay them and they spare no expense in their defense. The cops rarely serve any pre-trial jail time, and are released on ridiculously low bail.

During jury selection, their attorneys seek to get as many whites on the panel as possible. The presumption is that white jurors are much more likely to be middle-class, and conservative, and much more likely to believe the testimony of police and prosecution witnesses than black witnesses, defendants, or even the victims.

The same rule applies to black or Latino jurors, and both may be represented on the New York cop's jury. They are generally middle-class, and share the same biases toward those they perceive as the criminal element as many whites.

Prosecutors have a big task in trying to overcome the pro-police attitudes, and the negative racial stereotypes of middle-class jurors. A 2003 Penn State University study found that many whites are likely to associate pictures of blacks with violent crimes, and in some cases where crimes were not committed by blacks they misidentified the perpetrator as an African-American.

The frequent media portrayal of young blacks and Latinos as crime-prone, drug-dealing gangsters, the gang and murder violence that continues to wrack many black neighborhoods, and the glorification of the thug lifestyle by many young blacks reinforces negative racial perceptions.

Almost certainly, defense attorneys will try and type Bell and his two companions in that manner. This makes many whites, non-blacks and even many older blacks guarded, suspicious and fearful of young blacks.

There is no ironclad standard of what is or isn't acceptable use of force. It often comes down to a judgment call by the officer. In the Rodney King beating case in 1992 in which four LAPD officers stood trial, defense attorneys turned the tables and painted King as the aggressor and claimed that the level of force used against him was justified.

The four New York City cops tried for gunning down African immigrant, Amadou Diallo in 1999, also claimed that they feared for their lives. The jury believed them and acquitted them.

In Cincinnati, a municipal judge summarily acquitted white Cincinnati police officer, Stephen Roach of criminal charges in the slaying of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas during a traffic pursuit in 2001. The shooting ignited three days of riots. The judge bought Roach's tale that he feared for his life, and fired in self-defense.

In the Bell case, Kasaryk and the other officer's attorneys almost certainly will use the same tact and argue that the officers feared for their lives when they fired. In his initial call to a supervising police lieutenant, Isnora said he thought one of the suspects had a gun, made a suspicious move, and that the car they were in bumped him.

The code of silence is another powerful obstacle to convicting bad cops. Officers hide behind it and refuse to testify against other officers, or tailor their testimony to put the officer's action in the best possible light.

Prosecutors often are barred from using statements made during internal investigations of officer misconduct in court proceedings on grounds of self-incrimination. This knocks out another potentially crucial prosecution weapon. Federal prosecutors that retried the officers that beat King learned a vital lesson from the abysmal failure of local prosecutors to convict them. They did not rely exclusively on the videotape but on expert testimony on the use of force to prove that the officers went way over the top against King.

Yet despite the massive time, resources, and care they devoted to the case, they still only managed to convict two of the four officers. Karasyk well knows that nailing cops is a rough task for even the most diligent prosecutor. He's betting that it will take much more than solid evidence that it was a bad shooting to nail his client. That's a good bet, but prosecutors must be prepared to call him on it.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a political analyst and social issues commentator, and the author of the book, The Emerging Black GOP Majority (Middle Passage Press, September 2006), a hard-hitting look at Bush and the GOP's court of black voters.

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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