MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A judge has temporarily halted Minnesota’s updated use-of-force standards for peace officers amidst a lawsuit filed by the state’s largest law enforcement groups.
The organizations filed a lawsuit in July against Gov. Tim Walz and the state, alleging that the revised statues in the police accountability bill, which outline when deadly use of force is legally justified, are unconstitutional. The statute went into effect on March 1, 2021.
Originally, officers were authorized to use deadly force to “protect the peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm.” But the updated language cut the word “apparent,” and added three requirements to justify that use of deadly force. Specifically, the officer must be able to articulate the threat and the danger must also be likely to occur unless an officer takes action.
The law enforcement organizations argued that a person cannot be compelled to testify against themselves in a criminal proceeding, as it would infringe on an officer’s fifth amendment right. They also argued that agencies have not been able to provide training on the revised language, as the Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Peace Officers Standard And Training Board have not provided heads of local law enforcement with the necessary guidance.
The governor argued that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue, but Judge Leonardo Castro disagreed.
“The public policy implications are severe, and it is imperative that we get this right,” Castro wrote. He added that the plaintiffs “need not wait for one of its members to be charged with a homicide crime before the question of the constitutionality of the provision Plaintiffs challenge is answered.”
“We’re pleased with the court’s decision and for progress toward improving this law,” said Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters in response to the ruling. “The Constitution protects us all, and it’s important both law enforcement and their communities know the rules around deadly force.”
Oral arguments must begin within 60 days of Castro’s order.
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