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Judge pauses police use of force rule standards

(The Center Square) – A Ramsey County judge paused new police use of force standards passed in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd, the Star Tribune first reported.

“The public policy implications are severe, and it is imperative that we get this right,” Judge Leonardo Castro wrote.

The 2020 law change doesn’t allow officers to justify deadly force by claiming that they used such force to protect themselves or another person from “apparent” death or great bodily harm.

Now, the new law reads officers can use lethal force “to protect the peace officer or another from death or great bodily harm” with three sub-conditions the threat “can be articulated with specificity by the law enforcement officer; is reasonably likely to occur absent action by the law enforcement officer, and must be addressed through the use of deadly force without unreasonable delay.”

Minnesota Public Radio reported the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, and Law Enforcement Labor Services Inc. sued Gov. Tim Walz in July.

The groups argued the new use of force standards unconstitutionally require a police officer to forfeit the right not to testify against themselves in deadly force cases.

“The uncertainty and insecurity would be unconscionable,” Castro wrote in his order pausing the new rule. “Additionally, reason and common sense dictate that we do not allow chiefs of police and sheriffs to prepare and implement training programs that may be based on an unconstitutional premise. If the Revised Statute provision is unconstitutional, it is best we know that now before it is too late.”

Castro ordered the rule changes be paused until the lawsuit concludes and that the use of force conditions revert to prior rules, the Tribune reported. He estimated expedited arguments would happen within 60 days of Monday’s order.

State Sen. Warren Limmer, R- Maple Grove, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, applauded the action.

“After hearing from Law Enforcement about their concerns with the new standards — which were repeatedly brought up and rebuffed by DFL leaders, I’m grateful for the court’s wisdom in this decision today,” he said in a statement. “The new law also raised serious concern from border cities and neighboring states, which put our communities at risk.”


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