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Minnesota Legislature moves closer to strengthening sexual assault law

Plus: man who performed Floyd’s autopsy could testify as soon as Thursday; Minneapolis voters to face ballot question on giving mayor more authority; self-described member of ‘Boogaloo Bois’ from St. Cloud charged with illegal possession of machine gun; and more.

Minnesota House
Minnesota House
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

The Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach says, “Minnesota’s divided Legislature is closer to eliminating the ‘mentally incapacitated’ loophole, after a recent state Supreme Court ruling sparked outrage and put renewed attention on the decades-old state law. The court granted a man convicted of rape a new trial because the victim was voluntarily intoxicated when the assault occurred. …  The Senate is considering a proposal that would expand the definition of mentally incapacitated to include someone who is ‘under the influence of an intoxicating substance to a degree that renders them incapable of consenting.’ Under current law, a person who sexually assaults a voluntarily intoxicated person is likely to face a gross misdemeanor. The change would make it easier for perpetrators to face felony charges in those cases.”

KSTP-TV reports: “The man who performed George Floyd’s autopsy could testify as soon as Thursday, according to a law expert who spoke with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. Dr. Andrew Baker would be the latest to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who faces murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s death. The medical testimony would follow a day that focused on arrest audio, physical evidence collected at the scene, and drugs found months later.”

For MPR, Jon Collins, Brandt Williams, Riham Feshir and Matt Sepic report: “Pills found during the forensic investigation into George Floyd’s death in police custody tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl; one contained Floyd’s saliva, officials testified Wednesday during the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Pills were found in the SUV Floyd was driving; one that contained DNA from Floyd’s saliva was also found in the back of the police squad vehicle that briefly held Floyd. The presence of the drugs wasn’t a surprise, since the medical examiner’s report on Floyd showed the presence of drugs in his system.”

An opinion piece in USA Today by Carmen Perez says, “The most recent days of the Derek Chauvin trial have shown this country, and specifically Black America, something most never thought they’d see: that the blue wall of silence can, indeed, crumble. This week, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, a lifelong veteran of the department and the city’s first Black police chief, testified that Chauvin’s actions in the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd violated police training and ethics. … with the unprecedented public attention on this case, Arradondo’s testimony sends a loud signal down the chain of command and to police across the country to value truth and life above loyalty. If Chauvin is found guilty, these testimonies will represent a turning point in how individual cases of police misconduct are handled and promote a cultural change and greater accountability throughout law enforcement.”

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Also in the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil writes: “Minneapolis voters will decide this fall on whether to change the balance of power in City Hall, granting the mayor more authority over daily operations and restricting the council’s role. The Minneapolis Charter Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to place the question before voters in November, when the ballot will include the races for mayor and all 13 City Council members. The ballot also could have a separate proposal to replace the Police Department. ‘I think it’s probably the most important charter amendment that’s come before the city in 100 years,’ said Barry Clegg, chairman of the commission. ‘If somebody has 14 bosses, things don’t get done, conflicts don’t get resolved and that’s what we learned when we talked to our department heads. Hopefully, this will make a difference.’”

In the Pioneer Press, Mara H. Gottfried writes: “The St. Paul City Council narrowly denied a developer’s appeal on Wednesday night to move forward with a $57 million housing development along the Green Line light-rail corridor. The proposal to build a six-story, 288-unit apartment building on a long-vacant lot southwest of Lexington Parkway and University Avenue drew fierce criticism from neighborhood advocates about gentrification and displacement. … Chris Osmundson, Alatus director of development, called the decision ‘tremendously disheartening’ and said it ‘will certainly chill proposed development in the city of St. Paul going forward.’”

Says a WCCO-TV story, “Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that individuals who were scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccines at the TCO Performance Center will now receive them at the U.S. Bank Stadium. In a press conference, Gov. Walz said the reason for the transfer of the vaccination site is due to recent weather damage sustained by the TCO. Officials say appointments were postponed Wednesday due to the move but impacted patients will be contacted as soon as possible to reschedule their vaccines.”

An AP story says, “A Minnesota man whom authorities describe as a self-proclaimed member of the anti-government ‘boogaloo’ movement and had an interest in killing police was charged Wednesday with illegal possession of a machine gun. A federal magistrate judge ordered Michael Dahlager, 27, of St. Cloud, to remain in custody until a detention hearing scheduled Friday. Dahlager’s court-appointed attorney, Robert Richman, told The Associated Press in an email Wednesday evening that he had not yet met his client and knows nothing about the case.”

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