The charges are not supported by witnesses in Trooper Londregan’s case

Trooper Londregan appeared before Judge Tamera Garcia in Hennepin County District Court this morning, for the first of at least two omnibus hearings designed to allow the parties to make motions to the court on a broad range of issues. 

Trooper Londregan was represented by his attorney’s Chris Madel, Peter Wold, and Todd Hennen, while the state was represented by Chris Freeman, the Managing Attorney for the Criminal Division of the HCAO. 

It became even more apparent during this hearing, that the information from witnesses in the case fails to support the charges as issued by the Hennepin County Attorneys Office (HCAO).

New Prosecution Team

Mr. Freeman stated that he was making his one and only appearance in this case, and formally advised the court that the HCAO had hired an outside firm, Steptoe, LLC, to handle the prosecution going forward. The four lawyers assigned are described as former “federal prosecutors.” This development is stunning given the HCAO is one of the largest law firms in the state, and theoretically the most experienced in prosecuting murder cases. 

For the HCAO to have brought these charges against Trooper Londregan, only to find itself four months later unable to field a willing team of prosecutors from within should be an embarrassment to the once proud office. Add to this the HCAO’s own hired expert witness opining that Trooper Londregan’s actions were justified, and the fact a young trooper’s livelihood remains at stake is simply maddening.

As a result of the pending change in prosecutors, few actual issues were resolved today, and a second omnibus hearing was scheduled for Monday, June 10, at 9 am.

The Hearing

Today’s hearing focused on several discovery related motions made by the defense. For example, Mr. Madel argued that the state had yet to provide a witness list as mandated by the date of the first omnibus hearing. In his argument, Madel noted that the witnesses he is aware of come from the police reports that have been disclosed, and that not a single witness in any police report supports the criminal charges as issued by the Hennepin County Attorney. 

Another issue debated were documents the defense received in response to a subpoena of the state’s initial use of force expert Jeff Noble. According to Mr. Madel, the defense received it’s first response from Mr. Noble through the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, and that the response totaled 22 correspondences. When Mr. Madel asked Mr. Noble to respond directly to the defense, an additional 20 correspondences were provided — an indication the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office had filtered the information the defense had subpoenaed directly from Mr. Noble.

Judge Garcia denied “for now” the defense’s motion to dismiss the murder charge (count one) in the criminal complaint, seaming to leave open the ability for the motion to be revisited at a later date.

Judge Garcia did not decide the question of whether to hold a future “Florence” hearing on the issue of whether probable cause exists to support the murder charge against Trooper Londregan. In the discussion on the issue, it appears likely that the issue will be resolved by review of briefs submitted by both the defense and the new prosecution team.

The defense presented proffer information from four current and former Minnesota State Patrol trainers, and three use of force experts, Jeff Noble, Jack Ryan and Scott Defoe. All seven have asserted in statements that Trooper Londregan’s use of deadly force was reasonable and comported with Minnesota State Patrol training and policy.

The Atmosphere

The hearing took place once again under a very different environment than the pretrial hearings involving the defendants in the George Floyd case. Today, several hundred supporters of Trooper Londregan and the law enforcement profession were at the Hennepin County Government Center. Many stayed in the Government Center public service plaza while about 15 attended the hearing. 

This show of support is vastly different than the utter lack of support the officers in the Floyd trial experienced. In several of those pretrial hearings, the officers and their attorneys were forced to walk through anti police activists, often times being verbally and physically threatened. This behavior is what led to the heightened level of security in the subsequent trial.

Even with this show of support, a group of 30-40 anti-police activists attempted to disrupt the defense team as they thanked the supporters and made a brief statement to the assembled media following the hearing. The behavior was disrespectful as several jumped up on planter boxes and benches to shout out over the crowd, while others tried to get as close as they could to the cameras to disrupt any interview underway. 

The attempts to disrupt only amplify the hypocrisy of this group, many of whom I recognized from previous trials involving the police. The group claims to want justice, but their actions reflect anything but — they want a rush to judgement.

Thankfully Trooper Londregan has a robust defense team which will stand in the way of any attempts to rush judgement in this case.