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Prosecutors seek to recombine trials of ex-police officers charged in Floyd killing

Plus: Klobuchar to speak at Biden’s inauguration; state GOP lawmakers propose new laws to curtail Walz’s power; Falcon Heights City Council considers adding street name to honor Philando Castile; and more.

Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Hennepin County Jail

At MPR, Jon Collins reports, “State prosecutors are enlisting the help of a prominent Minnesota epidemiologist as they seek to recombine the trials of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd and delay the proceedings until summer. In a filing on Tuesday, prosecutors from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office argued that the judge was wrong to sever the cases after his previous decision to try them together. Prosecutors also say a March trial presents a public health danger. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank’s arguments were backed up by an affidavit from Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota and member of President-elect Joe Biden’s 16-member coronavirus advisory board.”

Sarah Mearhoff writes for the Forum News Service: “When the nation inaugurates Joe Biden as its 46th president on Wednesday at 11 a.m., a Minnesotan will be joining him on stage: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota Democrat, as the ranking member (soon-to-be chair) of the Senate Rules Committee, is tasked with planning the ceremony, alongside a few other congressional leaders. She will also be one of few people speaking at the ceremony, she told Forum News Service in an interview. ‘For me, this ceremony — and what I’m going to be focused on in my remarks — is that we can’t take our democracy for granted,’ Klobuchar said.”

The Star Tribune’s Libor Jany reports, “Situated in the heart of north Minneapolis’ commercial district, the corner of W. Broadway and N. Lyndale Avenue is home to a grocery store, a Walgreens, and a gas station that locals have taken to calling the ‘Murder Station.’ The Winner Gas station very nearly lived up to its dark nickname again when a 19-year-old boy was shot there last month. He was one of at least 21 people to have been struck by gunfire around the intersection since last June. Now, as Minneapolis sets about reimagining public safety, this rough stretch of the North Side may provide a telling first test of a new strategy that prioritizes mental healthcare and drug treatment to address the cycles of trauma that can lead to violence.”

Says MPR’s Tim Pugmire: “Republicans have spent months arguing for an end to the peacetime emergency that allows Gov. Tim Walz to issue orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. … Now they’re trying to enact new laws to chip away at Walz’s power. Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound, wants to change the law to require a legislative vote each time the governor orders a 30-day extension of the peacetime emergency. … There is also a Senate bill to allow businesses to fully reopen in spite of any emergency order, if they have a plan for operating safely. Another would allow the Legislature to terminate any emergency order issued by the governor after 30 days.”

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WCCO-TV’s Jennifer Mayerle reports: “Images of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, surrounded and taken over by rioters, was seen around the world last June. The building was destroyed during the unrest, days after George Floyd died while in police custody on Memorial Day. … And now, its officers have moved again to what’s known as the City of Lakes Building, a recently-vacated space about a block from City Hall in downtown. Deputy Chief of Patrol Erick Fors admits it’s still not ideal, and says the goal is to be in the community the Third Precinct serves.”

Deanna Weniger writes for the Pioneer Press: “The Falcon Heights City Council is seeking public input on adding a street name to honor Philando Castile who was fatally shot by a police officer in July of 2016. The naming, if approved, would appear as a secondary street sign on Larpenteur Avenue from Fulham Street to Fry Street that would read ‘Philando Castile Memorial Avenue.’ The request was submitted by Councilmember Melanie Leehy, who is also a member of the Philando Castile Peace Garden Committee.”

For the Hutchinson Leader, Stephen Wiblemo writes: “Police are looking into a video that allegedly records audio of a Hutchinson High School teacher committing a sexual act over a digital learning platform. The incident allegedly happened Thursday night, and the video has been widely shared on social media. ‘The district is aware of the allegations and has taken action according to district policy, which includes reporting to the appropriate authorities,’ Hutchinson Superintendent Daron VanderHeiden said. … Hutchinson Police Chief Tom Gifferson said the department has been notified of the recording and allegations and is investigating.”

The Star Tribune’s Andy Mannix reports, “On Snapchat, Dayton Sauke bragged about his illegal ‘sawn-off’ shotgun and his plans to kill a law enforcement officer at a pro-Trump rally at the Minnesota Capitol last weekend. ‘Even if I kill only 1 cop thats more than antifa cop lovers have ever killed’, the 22-year-old Owatonna man boasted under a photo of himself smoking a cigarette. On Friday, the federal agents who had been monitoring Sauke’s social media arrested him after Sauke sold an illegal firearm to two undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to federal charges filed Tuesday. ”

An AP story says, “Toby Gardenhire, the son of former major league manager Ron Gardenhire, will manage Minnesota’s new Triple-A affiliate, the St. Paul Saints. The Saints and Twins made the announcement Tuesday. The 38-year-old Toby Gardenhire was supposed to manage Minnesota’s Triple-A team, the Rochester Red Wings, last season before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled minor league competition. He instead supervised the Twins’ alternate training site in St. Paul, where the team now has its primary affiliate.”

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