Hennepin County prosecutor Freeman won’t seek reelection
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection in 2022, drawing a curtain on a more than two-decade career notable for his decisions in high-profile cases involving police.
Freeman, 73, drew national attention in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year as he came under intense pressure to charge four Minneapolis officers in Floyd’s death.
Freeman charged one officer, Derek Chauvin, just four days after Floyd’s death, but he was ultimately sidelined as Attorney General Keith Ellison took over and brought more serious charges against Chauvin and charged the three other officers.
After decades in which police officers were not charged in fatal shootings, Freeman announced in 2016 that his office would no longer use grand juries to investigate such cases. He said it was to bring more transparency and accountability to the charging process.
After making that change, Freeman decided not to charge two Minneapolis officers in the 2015 fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, a decision that still angers activists years later. In Wednesday’s announcement, Freeman called it one of the hardest decisions he made as a prosecutor, but maintained it was the right one. At the time, Freeman cited evidence he said showed that Clark, who was Black, was trying to get an officer’s gun when he was shot.
Freeman did charge Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor in the 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an Australian woman who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. Activists noted at the time that Noor, who was convicted, is Black while Damond was white.
Freeman also had a hand in a criminal case involving Myon Burrell, a Black man who spent more than half his life in prison in the death of an 11-year-old girl before an investigation by The Associated Press prompted a review that led to Burrell’s release in December. Freeman didn’t bring the initial case against Burrell, but was the top prosecutor when he was tried and convicted a second time.
Freeman said Wednesday that his deepest regret is that he has not been able to bring charges against the person who fired into a home and killed 3-year-old Terrell Mayes in December 2011, and that he has been unable to charge those responsible for shootings that left two other children dead and one critically wounded this year.