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Prosecutors want to add third-degree murder charge against ex-officers charged in killing of George Floyd

Plus: Minneapolis has roughly 200 fewer police officers available to work than it did a year ago; UnitedHealthGroup announces leadership switch; Wisconsin repeals mask mandate; 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

MPR’s Jon Collins writes: “Prosecutors want all four former officers charged in the killing of George Floyd to get an additional charge of third-degree murder. The motion filed Thursday is based on a state appeals court decision earlier this week tied to the case of another former Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in the 2017 killing of Justine Ruszczyk. … Prosecutors with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office say the appeals court ruling in the Noor case makes clear that third-degree murder charges can be directed at just one person. They want Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill to reinstate third-degree murder charges against former officer Derek Chauvin.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Liz Navratil, “Minneapolis has about 200 fewer police officers available to work as the city tries to rebound from a violent year and prepare for more potential unrest. In the short term, the city is seeking aid from other law enforcement agencies as it plans for the March trial for former Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with killing George Floyd. To build up their ranks in the long term, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is asking City Council to release $6.4 million to hire additional officers.”

FOX 9 has a story saying, “The Minnesota Department of Health has filed lawsuits against two restaurants that remained open during the COVID-19 pause that the state says are now operating without restaurant licenses. According to MDH, lawsuits against The Interchange in Albert Lea and King Sparrow Coffee and Soda Shop in Milaca were filed last week. The state says both restaurants were notified in December of pending suspensions against them. The owners were allowed 20 days to request a hearing on the suspensions but MDH says neither did, resulting in a suspension. But despite the suspensions, both restaurants have continued operations.”

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In the Star Tribune, Christopher Snowbeck writes: “David Wichmann is stepping down as chief executive of UnitedHealth Group after less than four years running Minnesota’s largest company, an abrupt move that surprised investors Thursday and apparently drove a one-day decline in the Minnetonka-based company’s stock price. Analysts said they don’t anticipate a strategy shift as the CEO job passes to Andrew Witty, a onetime chief executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. He currently runs UnitedHealth Group’s fast-growing Optum division for health care services.”

The AP reports: Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature on Thursday repealed Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, brushing aside warnings from health experts against making Wisconsin one of only 10 states without a statewide order. The Assembly vote came a week after the Senate voted to kill the mandate. Republicans, who control both chambers, argued that Evers exceeded his authority by repeatedly extending the mask mandate without legislative approval. The repeal will take effect on Friday, after the Senate majority leader signs it.

For KSTP-TV Eric Rasmussen says, “State lawmakers voiced strong support for reforming Minnesota’s civil forfeiture laws on Thursday, as members of the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee voted, 14-1, in favor of a bill that would greatly restrict when police can take the property of those suspected, but not convicted, of certain crimes. The bill’s author Rep. Kelly Moller, DFL-Shoreview, called it a ‘compromise,’ noting that civil forfeiture reform has been the subject of debate at the Capitol for years. … Moller’s bill would restrict when police agencies can forfeit the vehicles of those suspected of crimes such as drunk driving. It would also stop officers from seizing cash less than $1,500 during most drug arrests.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson, “Carol Robertson attributes 105 years of life to clean leaving (minus decades of smoking), regular exercise and medical advances over the last century — including the COVID-19 vaccine that she received on Thursday. The St. Paul centenarian said she was relieved when her relatives found an appointment for her to receive her first dose at an East Metro HealthPartners clinic. …Robertson was born just before the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919, but doesn’t remember it. The polio epidemic in the 1950s was another matter. Fears of her son suffering that disease gripped her.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: Nearly two-dozen custom home lots will go on sale next week overlooking the Mississippi River in Highland Park, a milestone in the redevelopment of Highland Bridge, the expansive former Ford Motor Co. Twin Cities Assembly Plant property. A brokerage team from Coldwell Banker Realty will open 20 lot sales on Feb. 8, with the goal of establishing mostly single-family homes, with the possibility of a few carriage houses. Design standards are expected to include sustainability requirements, and lot prices will range from $475,000 to $1.15 million. That translates to finished one-to-six-unit homes ranging from $1.3 million to $3 million, said Realtor Jim Seabold.

A CNN story by Daniel Dale says, “South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem claimed in a Fox News interview on Tuesday that, thanks to her state’s ‘unique’ approach to the coronavirus pandemic, they ‘got through it better than virtually every other state/’. … South Dakota had experienced 12,280 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people as of Thursday, per Johns Hopkins data — which means about 1 in 8 state residents were known to have had the virus. … North Dakota, at 12,851 cases per 100,000 people, was the only state with a worse per-capita figure.”

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