In a news release issued by Meshbesher & Associates regarding a Federal lawsuit filed in the Map Kong officer-involved shooting case, criticism of the use of a grand jury in cases of this nature was made. I believe it is important for the public to know that there was nothing improper done in connection with the use of a grand jury in this case, which has been the standard practice of this office in cases of this nature since 1990.
The Dakota County Attorney’s Office guidelines in cases involving a law enforcement officer-involved shooting death require that these types of cases be taken to a grand jury for a determination of whether or not the use of deadly force by the officer(s) involved was legally justified under Minnesota law. These guidelines also insure the independent, fair and impartial investigation of these types of cases by a separate law enforcement agency and allow the County Attorney to appoint a special prosecutor if a conflict of interest were to arise.
These guidelines were followed in connection with the case involving the tragic shooting death of Map Kong by three Burnsville Police Officers which occurred on March 17, 2016. The investigation of this case was conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension. A Dakota County Grand Jury was convened on June 20, 2016 to review this case and the Grand Jury concluded after hearing testimony from 13 witnesses that the three Burnsville officers were legally justified in the use of deadly force in this incident.
There was no conflict of interest for the Dakota County Attorney’s office to handle the presentation of this case to the Grand Jury. None of the officers involved had any ongoing or prior significant direct involvement with this office, and no involvement at all with the County Attorney.
When cases of this nature are reviewed by a grand jury, the members of the grand jury are provided, through witnesses, with a fair and unbiased presentation of the relevant evidence gathered in the investigation of the case (which would include relevant video footage from officer body cameras, squad cars or other sources). Instructions on the law and role of the grand jury are given by the County Attorney. No recommendations are made by the County Attorney’s Office as to what conclusions the grand jury should reach in a given case.
Attached is a copy of the Dakota County Attorney’s Office guidelines in law enforcement officer-involved shooting cases, additional information regarding the Map Kong case and an article regarding the function of grand juries in the criminal justice system.