MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Department of Corrections denied parole Monday for the man who killed a Robbinsdale police officer in 1985, saying Ronald Schneider has not shown he’s met the criteria required for release.
Schneider, 70, is serving a life sentence for killing Officer John Scanlon while Scanlon sat in his squad car after responding to a robbery.
When asked what criteria Schneider failed to meet, corrections spokesman John Schadl said: “The bottom line is public safety. The burden of proof is on the offender, to show that their behavior has changed enough that they do not pose a danger to the community.”
Monday’s hearing was closed.
Schadl said Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy ordered Schneider’s application for parole be reviewed again in five years and also ordered Schneider to take part in programming for offenders. Schadl said that could include programs that help offenders understand the impact their crime had on victims, educational programming or treatment and therapy, if applicable.
In 1993, state law was changed to mandate that anyone convicted of killing a police officer be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But Schneider was sentenced to life in prison under older laws, which made him eligible for parole after 17 years.
The corrections department has said it must adhere to laws in place at the time of the sentencing. Three other men in state prison have been convicted of killing police officers and are serving sentences under the old law.
In the weeks before the hearing, several authorities wrote to Roy, asking that Schneider remain locked up. The coordinated effort came months after the law enforcement community was stunned when the state granted parole for Timothy Eling, who was serving a life sentence for the 1982 killing of Oakdale Officer Richard Walton.
In one letter, dated April 2, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek wrote that denying parole “sends a clear message that the killing of police officers — our first line of defense and protectors of our society — is both unacceptable and unforgivable.”
Letters were also submitted by the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Robbinsdale Police Chief Steven Smith, and others.
Schadl said Monday that Roy looks at the letters he receives and gives strong consideration to the community’s reaction and impact on victims — but the ultimate decision comes down to one of public safety.
Scanlon’s family members had also opposed parole, and they had a chance to meet with Roy on Monday. Scanlon was 35 when he was killed, and left behind a wife and son.
Scott Crandall, Scanlon’s nephew, said family members would prefer that Schneider have no chance for parole, but they are happy with Monday’s decision. He thanked Roy and those who voiced opposition.
“I think that this is an instance where the voice of the law enforcement community, and the victim’s family, was heard loud and clear,” Crandall said.
This was the second time Schneider has been up for parole; he was denied 10 years ago.
Minneapolis attorney Craig Cascarano, who defended Schneider in 1985, said he was not surprised by Monday’s decision. He said Schneider had a mental illness, but it wasn’t severe enough for jurors to acquit him.
“If he’s alive in five years, and I hope he is, then I hope he prevails,” Cascarano said.
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