The leaders of nine Minnesota police unions have asked Gov. Tim Walz and members of his administration to “refrain from making statements specific to pending litigation, particularly those involving police officers.”
“First, your statements about the officers charged in the criminal case involving George Floyd make it very difficult, if not impossible, for those officers to receive a fair trial through the justice process, which does not serve the public good,” says a letter sent to Walz Friday.
“The goal should be to ensure a complete and fair trial that examines all evidence. Weighing in from your position has the potential to both taint a jury pool and deny justice to those involved,” it adds.
The letter comes a day after a Hennepin County judge dropped a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, but upheld the charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
A motion to dismiss the charges against the three other officers involved in the case was also denied, meaning all but one charge was upheld by the judge.
In response, Gov. Walz took to Twitter to celebrate the “important step toward justice for George Floyd.”
BREAKING: Judge upholds murder charges against Derek Chauvin and other officers. Important step toward justice for George Floyd.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) October 22, 2020
In their Friday letter, local police leaders said the governor’s comments “have fueled anger and hostility towards police and public safety officials.”
“Your many previous remarks and statements, including those made in-person and on social media are premature, judgmental, inflammatory, and only add to the anger and divisiveness of an already dangerous situation,” states the letter.
The letter was signed by the leaders of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Law Enforcement and Labor Services, the St. Paul Police Federation, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, the Bloomington Police Officers Federation, the Woodbury Police Officers Association, the Duluth Police Union and the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police.
“A continued pattern of statements based on opinion and unsubstantiated claims puts people’s lives at risk and could fuel additional violence and riots. And these are not peaceful protests,” the letter concludes. “There have already been many, many injuries to people and property, with neighborhoods and livelihoods destroyed.”
Today the MPPOA and others sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz asking him to refrain from making statements on pending litigation. pic.twitter.com/UMGjSfVVHz
— Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (@MNPoliceAssn) October 23, 2020