After failing to escape from the police, Terrance Franklin allegedly stole a police officer’s weapon and shot two officers before they managed to return fire. Soon after, Franklin’s family filed a lawsuit, resulting in a massive payout.
While responding to a burglary, five Minneapolis Police Department officers pursued 22-year-old suspect Terrance Franklin, who broke into another nearby residence. The officers managed to corner their suspect in the home’s basement, at which point the officers testified that Franklin snatched one of their service weapons, shooting Officer Ricardo Muro and Officer Michael Meath.
Officers Meath and Lucas Peterson managed to return fire, killing Franklin at the scene. Detectives later found a firearm hidden inside a sock near the crime scene, which was used during the robbery, linking Franklin to the weapon. After an extensive investigation, a grand jury cleared all of the officers of any wrongdoing.
Despite all evidence pointing to Franklin’s guilt and the officers being exonerated, that didn’t stop the deceased man’s family from going after the police department. Less than a year after Franklin’s death, his family filed a wrongful death suit, accusing the officers of lying about Franklin stealing a service pistol.
According to KNOW, the lawsuit alleges that Franklin was actually trying to surrender when he was shot. The family claims that it was impossible for Franklin, a 5-foot-10, 173-pound man, to wrestle away a police officer’s firearm. Instead, the suit accuses all five of the officers of lying, adding that they accidentally shot two of their colleagues while attempting to shoot Franklin.
Although the family demanded at least $2 million in compensation and punitive damages, the Minneapolis City Council voted to settle the wrongful death lawsuit by offering $795,000, which the family accepted, according to KMSP. The suit also alleged that an officer had used a racial slur while referring to Franklin.
The Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) criticized the council for issuing a settlement, arguing that the police officers who were wounded during the struggle with Franklin have once again been victimized.
“Disappointing doesn’t begin to describe this. This is a giant slap in the face to the police in Minneapolis and the communities they serve,” the FOP said. “The Minneapolis City Council just showed its true colors. This payout is likely greater than the insurance policies offered the officers protecting the city. This settlement, and the Council’s commentary suggestion about body cameras being the answer to cases like this is irresponsible, insulting and serves no purpose other than to stoke the fires set by a media whose objective is to demean and vilify the Minneapolis Police.”
Despite the lawsuit’s allegations providing no evidence to support its claims other than the fact that Franklin was outnumbered, the city felt that the settlement was justified. The incident occurred before Minneapolis established a policy requiring police officers to wear bodycams, which may have cleared up the claims.
“This shows the lack of support and compassion the City Council has regarding crime in this great city, the victims it leaves in its wake, and the care and well-being of our officers,” the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis (POF) said. “It is a slap in the face of Justice. It seems instead of punishing violent offenders, the City Council is in the business of rewarding violent offenders.”
Critics have blasted the city’s decision, arguing that the settlement incentivizes frivolous lawsuits against police departments and rewards violent criminal acts. However, the family’s attorney, Mike Padden, praised the outcome, reporting that his clients were “happy” with the settlement but were eager to take their case to court for the full amount.
“This was absolutely not a situation where he was somebody in flight who just committed a crime,” Padden declared.
Even though there was no evidence that Franklin was wrongfully killed, his family was compensated by city officials as though it had been proven.
The settlement sends a message to both criminals and their family members that city officials will cave to accusations against their police officers. Unfortunately, it’s the taxpayers who are footing the bill for a criminal who abused them.