MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis has reached a $795,000 wrongful death settlement with the family of a 22-year-old African American man who was shot and killed by police in 2013, ending years of extended litigation.
The president of the Minneapolis City Council, which signed off on the agreement Friday, called the death of Terrence Franklin and the injury of two officers in the line of duty a tragedy. Lisa Bender said she hoped the settlement would allow “everyone to have some resolution to move forward.”
Franklin's death seven years ago sparked outrage, as protesters and civil rights activists — together with the enhanced audio of a bystander’s video — challenged the official version of events.
Police said Franklin was a burglary suspect, killed by SWAT team members in a dark, south Minneapolis basement after he grabbed an MP5 submachine gun and shot and injured two officers — a contention denied by the family and their attorneys. They said police ignored the more likely scenario of accidental or negligent discharge and failed to carry out gunshot residue testing on the suspect’s body. An internal police investigation cleared the officers and a grand jury said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
But in an appeals court filing, the victim’s father, Walter Louis Franklin II, said the bystander’s video pointed to a 70-second gap between the time when the first shots were fired and the time officers shot his son — raising questions as to whether the unarmed suspect was in fact a threat. His attorneys argued his son was trying to surrender when he was shot. He died from multiple gunshot wounds.
More than 30 people have been killed by police officers in Minneapolis in the last two decades, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Bender said Minneapolis would continue to support officers who put their own safety at risk to serve their community. But the city also would work to ensure that the police department, which has already made some adjustments in policy, including the use of body-worn cameras, would continue to respond to demands for change.
The Franklin family's suit — asserting excessive force, wrongful death and negligence — named officers Lucas Peterson and Michael Meath, former Chief Janeé Harteau and the city of Minneapolis as defendants.
There was no immediate comment from the Minneapolis police department.