Light rail murder — an update on dysfunction

In June I highlighted our criminal justice system’s apparent apathy in connecting the dots and incapacitating a man responsible for the gruesome death of a man crushed by a train on a downtown Minneapolis light rail platform. Read that account here.

Unfortunately, rather than seeing improvement as I’ve checked up on the status of this case, I’ve only found further dysfunction.

The aggressor in the light rail train death, Daquan Rogers, remains on the street despite a June 2022 conviction in Hennepin County District Court for 4th degree assault of a police officer. In that case the judge sentenced Rogers to 2 years in prison but stayed the sentence in exchange for time served in jail if Rogers followed 13 conditions of release. Those conditions included the mandate that Rogers remained law abiding and followed instructions from his probation officer through June 2024.

Not only has Rogers not remained law abiding, but the Hennepin County District Court has also failed to revoke his conditional release and send him to prison, or even to the Hennepin County Workhouse.

A review of jail bookings and court records since his 2022 conviction indicates no fewer that 8 arrests for brawling, drugs, fleeing police, etc. Rogers was also charged in May 2023 in Hennepin County with five charges including disorderly conduct, theft, fleeing police, providing a false name, and possession of drug paraphernalia. In that case, Rogers has racked up no fewer than three warrants for failing to re-appear in court. Sadly, the court continues to just release Rogers each time he is brought back to court and continues to issue “sign and release” warrants when he fails to re-appear.

In late May 2023 as noted above, Rogers was again brawling on a light rail platform in downtown Minneapolis when he punched another man. That man fell backwards as a light rail train was coming into the station. The man was fatally crushed by the train. Instead of attempting to help the man, Rogers fled.

Minneapolis police arrested Rogers later that day for probable cause murder and sent the case to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for charging. The HCAO deferred a charging decision at that time, citing the need for further investigation. Rogers was released with no charges. I’ve since learned from a person with knowledge of the case, that the HCAO has now formally declined to charge Rogers, citing the victim’s elevated blood alcohol concentration.

As noted in my original report on Rogers, the criminal justice system has utterly failed to connect the dots with his cases. Judge after judge deal with him, and seemingly have no information about his failures to appear or his continued criminal behavior. Probation officers have failed to hold Rogers accountable. Prosecutors have failed to charge Rogers or demand actual arrest warrants when he has failed to appear in court. No one has revoked his conditions for release or held him accountable for remaining unlawful.

This lack of coordination has failed to provide the public safety and sense of justice we all rightly expect. Sadly, it’s just one of thousands of similar cases.

We deserve better.