By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officer Jeronimo Yanez is being represented by a team of three attorneys in his manslaughter trial.

They are seasoned professionals in the courtroom who the officer won’t directly pay for.

WCCO took a look at who Minnesota police officers call if they land in legal trouble.

Long before the frantic aftermath of a traffic stop went viral, Officer Jeronimo Yanez had access to some of the best legal talent in the state.

Yanez is one of more than 6,000 members of Law Enforcement Labor Services.

The union collects $49 a month from more than half of Minnesota’s police force.

“Members that belong to Law Enforcement Labor Services pay a set union due every month and a portion of that union due is applied to what’s called the legal defense fund and that legal defense fund is what pays for the coverage for the officer,” Sean Gormley, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Labor Services said.

The Legal Defense Fund is offered through the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association or MPPOA.  That association declined to comment for this story.

But, on its website it says “all too often an outstanding officer’s career has ended or has been financially wiped out because of a legal action. At the MPPOA we’re doing everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

It lists 13 attorneys available to its members. The team of Paul Engh, Earl Gray, and Tom Kelly make up Yanez’s defense team.

“If you’re a member of law enforcement labor services you’re automatically a member of the MPPOA which is the entity that supplies the legal defense fund,” Gormley said.

But, police officers also have the option of joining MPPOA on their own and nearly all of Minnesota’s 9,500 police officers are members.  The MPPOA’s legal defense fund was established more than 20 years ago.  In addition to legal representation, that organization works to pass laws to better protect law enforcement and improve police training in the state.

Liz Collin