Civil suit to accuse cops of supplying marijuana amid training - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Civil suit to accuse cops of supplying marijuana in training program

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  • Civil suit to accuse cops of supplying marijuana in training programMore>>

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A person who is high on marijuana might worry about getting busted by the police, but they'd probably never imagine an officer would be the one supplying the drug -- but that's what a civil lawsuit will claim.

In a few weeks, a lawsuit alleging that officers participating in a Minnesota State Patrol training program crossed a major law-enforcement line by supplying marijuana to people and observing them as they got high.

Attorney Nathan Hansen told FOX 9 News he represents five people who were given marijuana.

"No consent form -- not even a perfunctory question about medical history," Hansen said of his clients' experiences.

The allegations first surfaced in May, but the Hennepin County Attorney's Office declined to any file criminal charges in September because six of the officers involved refused to speak with investigators and the witnesses -- who were admittedly high at the time -- didn't have the best recollection of the officers' names and gave contradictory statements.

Occupy protestors at Peavey Plaza recorded video of officers allegedly participating in the program as they transported people from downtown Minneapolis to their test site.

"I got stoned with a couple of cops," said protestor Michael Bonds, who goes by the name Panda.

Bonds, who suffers from epilepsy and schizophrenia, told FOX 9 News he also got a cheeseburger and cigarettes for participating. Though he freely admits his marijuana use, he says the individual choice to consume drugs becomes something else when the police become the dealers.

"They're supposed to be enforcing the law, not breaking the law," he said.

His claims were soon corroborated by a Chisago County deputy who reported watching Hutchinson Police Officer Karl Wilers take out a black box containing marijuana and get people to smoke it.

A total of 26 officers -- many of whom were rookies from rural towns -- participated in the Drug Recognition Program in April. Officials say the program was designed to teach officers how to recognize when someone is high.

As part of the program, officers went looking for people near homeless shelters and known drug hot spots to find heroin and cocaine users -- but they mostly found marijuana users. The subjects were supposed to supply their own drugs and were allegedly taken to a Minnesota Department of Transportation building near the airport for observation.

However, a criminal investigation into the program conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found that the rules were far from clear. One officer testified that instructors "skirted the line" while another confided that "morals are gone" in the program.

To illustrate the conflict, one officer is quoted as allegedly admitting, "I don't know what the big deal is. I just gave them marijuana. It's not like I hurt anybody."

Yet, Hansen is preparing to sue over civil rights violations, claiming that officers used vulnerable people as lab rats and then covered it up. .

"These people were treated as less than animals," he argued. "They would never give their dogs or horses these drugs."

The attorneys representing the officers in the case either did not respond or declined comment on this story, but Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman released the following statement:

"The DRE training program remains suspended even though no criminal charges were filed. In addition to the Internal Affairs investigation, we are engaged in a review of the structure, processes and curriculum of the program."

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