The State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on Tuesday declined a request from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to reinvestigate the 2013 fatal shooting of Terrance Franklin by Minneapolis police, citing a lack of new evidence and jurisdiction.
But the BCA found that not to be the case after meeting with Minneapolis police, the City Attorney's Office and a lawyer for Franklin's family.
"They did not indicate that there is new evidence in their possession," Evans wrote. He also noted that the BCA doesn't have the legal authority to step in on its own and investigate cases across the state.
In response, an official from Freeman's office wrote, "Our office received the letter from the BCA and are disappointed with their response. At this time, we are evaluating our options."
Michael Padden, an attorney for Franklin's family, was undeterred.
"This is a case that should be prosecuted, and I expect that to happen and so do my clients," he said, adding that he expects Freeman or Attorney General Keith Ellison to take it up. "To be frank, no additional investigation is needed. The evidence is all there. It's been there for a long time."
Franklin's family has long maintained that the 22-year-old surrendered when police found him hiding in an Uptown basement on May 10, 2013, after a manhunt.
He was wanted for questioning in a burglary and fled police after they found him sitting in a car. Police said he fought violently and used a police weapon to shoot and injure two officers before they returned fire.
A grand jury at the time declined to indict the officers, and an internal police investigation cleared them of wrongdoing.
Police weren't required to wear body cameras at the time so there is no video of the encounter. At the time, it also was policy for the Police Department to investigate deaths in-house.
The family settled a lawsuit with the city for $795,000 last year.
But in his letter to Freeman, Evans noted that the BCA didn't regularly conduct death investigations involving the Minneapolis department until the fall of 2015 and had no role in the Franklin shooting. "As such, we have no knowledge of the facts or circumstances of this case beyond what has been publicly reported," Evans wrote.
He also said this wasn't an appropriate case for the Force Investigations Unit (FIU), created a year ago within the BCA to investigate force used by local law enforcement.
Evans said the new unit wasn't created to re-examine previous incidents and that the BCA doesn't have the authority to step in on its own and investigate.
"The determination of who shall investigate these matters is left to the originating jurisdiction," Evans wrote. "In this case, the originating jurisdiction is the Minneapolis Police Department."
In Freeman's letter to Evans on May 4, he cited new information in the Franklin family's lawsuit, including enhanced video shot by Minneapolis resident Jimmy Gaines, who was across the street from the home in the 2700 block of S. Bryant Avenue where Franklin was shot.
The video was widely published in 2013. A week after the grand jury absolved the officers, the family told the Star Tribune they could hear Franklin on the Gaines video pleading for his life.
In his letter to the BCA, Freeman cited audio from the video and the possibility that Franklin's DNA ended up on an MP5 rifle after the officer touched his neck to check for a pulse. Freeman suggested the new Force Investigations Unit take up the case.
In his written response, Evans said Freeman's office had the video at the time the case was presented to the grand jury.
"While we recognize that your office may not have had expert analysis of this video at the time of your review, both the City of Minneapolis and the attorney representing Mr. Franklin's family have indicated that they are willing to share their experts' analysis with your office," Evans wrote. "Since this additional expert analysis is now available to you, and because there does not appear to be new evidence that would require additional investigation, there is no role for the BCA in this case."
Padden wrote a book on the case, which was published in 2020. Padden's investigation was the basis for a story in Time magazine in which Freeman was first quoted saying he thought the Franklin family's evidence warranted reopening the case.
Staff writers Matt McKinney and Katie Galioto contributed to this report.