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No charges in bogus Minnehaha Park 911 call that led to teens being detained

Thursday July 26, 2018

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal says there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone in connection with a bogus 911 call that led to four Somali-American teens being detained by Park Police at gunpoint.

MINNEAPOLIS - Saying there is insufficient evidence, the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office says no charges will be filed in connection with a bogus 911 call from Minnehaha Park that led to four Somali-American teens being detained by police.

Minneapolis Park Police were dispatched to the park around 7:30 p.m. July 10 after a 911 caller reported a group of young people armed with knives in an altercation, one of them perhaps with a gun. An onlooker recorded with her cell phone as officers detained the youth, for a time appearing to hold a gun in the direction of the teens. The young men were handcuffed and forced to sit on the ground.

Investigators later discovered the 911 call was not legitimate, but in the weeks since the incident have been unable to determine who was behind it.

"We reviewed this case and declined to issue charges at this time because, among other potential deficiencies, there was insufficient evidence to confirm the identity of the person who placed the 911 call," explained Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal. "For a criminal case, prosecutors must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to all elements of the criminal charge."

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The actions of the two Park Police officers ignited anger in the Somali community and for some across greater Minneapolis. Parks Commissioner Mary Merill says the board launched two separate investigations into the incident, one examining the actions of the two park police officers who detained the teens and another into the validity of the call. Following the decision not to file charges in connection with the bogus call the city released a transcript of the call dispatchers received that night.

Merrill says results of the independent investigation into the conduct of the officers will be available within the week, and potential corrective actions will be considered if Park Board policies were violated or laws were broken.

"Minneapolis parks are for all people, especially our children. Park commissioners, recreation staff and park police have worked to provide safe, welcoming experiences for youth for more than a century," Merrill said in a prepared statement. "We do not condone violence in the parks. What happened July 10 at Minnehaha Park does not reflect our organization’s mission and our obligation to serving youth and families. We know we have a lot of work to do if we want to rebuild trust, and we are committed to doing so."

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