Case of ex-Minneapolis cop who allegedly steals drugs brought to jury
The case of a former Minneapolis police officer accused of stealing drugs was referred to a federal jury in St. Paul on Friday following a nine-day trial in which prosecutors said the accused carried out unreasonable searches and seizures and confiscated drugs without reporting or handing them over. to the department.
The jury was seized of the case shortly before 4 p.m. Friday and met for about 20 minutes before leaving the courthouse, intending to return Monday morning to deliberate.
Ty Jindra, who was indicted last year, faces 11 counts relating to eight incidents between September 2017 and October 2019 that were recorded on body cameras worn by him and by officers working with him.
Jindra, a slim 29-year-old man with cropped hair, sat next to his two lawyers and only spoke with them occasionally. He did not testify.
Prosecutors Amber Brennan and Michelle Jones presented evidence accusing Jindra, a patrol officer on the north side of town, of shaking drivers and passengers for a range of controlled substances, including tramadol, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone and hydrochloride.
According to body camera video shown at trial, most of his targets were people of color, with Jindra – who is white – telling them he was giving them a break by not charging them.
“I know he enjoyed making stops for drugs,” said Daniel Payne, an officer sometimes paired with Jindra who testified earlier in the week. Payne, who described himself as a friend of Jindra’s, was a prosecution witness.
Defense attorneys Peter Wold and Aaron Morrison described Jindra as a proactive police officer who acted in good faith and was eager to get major dealers off the streets. They said he gave petty drug addicts breaks in hopes of gaining information and at times trimming and violating departmental policies in the interest of the public good.
One of the stops, they said, led to reports that resulted in a major arrest, although prosecutors disputed it.
The trial began on October 12 but was suspended three days later when one of the jurors contracted COVID-19. After a 10-day quarantine, the juror returned and testimony resumed on Monday.
Jindra, who is no longer employed as a police officer, was put on leave in February 2020 as he was the subject of a federal criminal investigation that began the previous fall.
He came to the attention of Minneapolis Police Department officials after being named in three excessive force complaints in a short period of time, sources told the Star Tribune. Department officials examined body camera footage that appeared to show Jindra stuffing drugs into her personal bag; Another video showed him occasionally turning off his body camera, which the defense said was normal and the prosecution argued it was a way to cover up his actions.
In his argument on Friday, Wold pointed out that Jindra threw away the drugs he confiscated. But Brennan said there was no evidence of this and he withheld the drugs from the four partners seen on the body camera video.
What Jindra did with the drugs remained ambiguous in the testimony.
“Either they prove Ty Jindra is a drug addict or he isn’t guilty,” Wold said. He added that prosecutors had not provided any evidence of his drug addiction and cited officers who testified that they did not believe Jindra was a drug addict.
Brennan replied that Jindra was “not on trial for drug addiction.” She said he could have used the drugs or sold them, and suggested that while the jury might have an opinion on whether he was addicted, it was irrelevant.
In a brief discussion before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank outside the presence of the jury, Brennan said family members were concerned about Jindra’s drug abuse when he was hospitalized in February 2020 , and that in recent years he had overdosed on Xanax, an addictive drug used to treat panic and anxiety disorders.
Among the allegations against Jindra was a traffic stop he carried out on the night of October 13, 2019, when he stopped four black men whose car drove slowly into an intersection on the north side without coming to a complete stop. The driver was unlicensed and Jindra handcuffed him, then began to search the vehicle and found a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana and a small bag of pills. He confiscated the drugs but no report was ever filed with the department. The grand jury that indicted Jindra said it was an unreasonable search and seizure.
Court officials called by the prosecution testified that it is generally prohibited by law for police to search for drugs during roadside checks if they do not see the drugs in the vehicle or if they do not have good reasons. to search. But Wold noted that the car stopped by Jindra in October 2019 stopped outside a house known for its gang activity.
“There isn’t a single one of these cops who testified here who hasn’t searched exactly like Ty Jindra did,” he said.
In another search on July 24, 2019, Jindra and a partner stopped an SUV for suspected reckless driving. Jindra found a vial of pills while searching the vehicle, which became the basis of a charge of “surreptitiously separating part of oxycodone pills” and then “hiding the separate pills in a plastic glove and to have them stored in his personal bags “while registering the remaining pills in evidence.
His body camera footage shows him pouring the pills from the vial into his gloved hand, then putting at least some back into the vial. Video shows he kept his gloved hand in a fist, as if there might still be some pills in his hand, then rolled the glove from his fingers and balled the gloves into his bag.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Jindra removed 66 pills from the department’s property room safe on July 8, 2019, claiming he was taking them to the State Criminal Apprehension Bureau (BCA) for analysis. But Allison Hursh, deputy director of the BCA’s forensic services laboratory, said there was no evidence the BCA ever received the pills.
During some of the incidents for which he was charged, Jindra was a field training officer, assigned to junior police officers and demonstrating proper police methods. A National Guard veteran who served in Iraq, Jindra was hired by the Minneapolis Police Department as a Community Service Officer in 2013 and as a Regular Officer in 2014.
He has received numerous accolades for his police work and was previously named fifth constituency officer of the month after helping disarm a knife-wielding attacker, according to staff records. He was also the subject of 15 complaints, one of which resulted in him receiving a letter of reprimand.
Jindra comes from a family of policemen. His brother is a Brooklyn Park police officer and his father, Jeff Jindra, retired from the Minneapolis Police Department in 2015 after a long career in which he received numerous awards. Elder Jindra also had his own history of allegations of misconduct; in one case, he and a colleague were cleared of wrongdoing by federal authorities.
Jeff Jindra was in the courtroom for most of the testimony this week, along with the accused’s wife.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224