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Attorney named to investigate Mpls. activist's arrest


Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges announced Friday that attorney Don Lewis will lead the independent investigation into the recent arrest of community activist Al Flowers.

Police officers came to Flowers' home last month to arrest his daughter on a home-monitoring violation.

He reportedly scuffled with them after asking to see a warrant. Flowers claimed that officers beat him and dragged him outside without cause. He denies a police report claim that he assaulted one of the officers.

Flowers had injuries to his head, face and ribs and was treated at a hospital before he was taken to jail. He was released from jail without being charged.

His daughter turned herself in and was also released after an investigation showed she did not violate her home monitoring orders.

The incident sparked harsh criticism of the Minneapolis Police Department from some leaders in Minneapolis' African American community. Some even held a rally outside of department's third precinct.

Last week, Hodges along with Minneapolis Police Chief Jeneé Harteau announced there would be an independent investigation. Lewis will investigate whether the officers involved violated department policy regarding the use of force in connection with the arrest.

"Mr. Lewis is the right person to conduct this investigation," said Hodges in a statement. "He is a respected leader in the community who I know will be thorough and fair."

The Star Tribune reports that Lewis contributed $500 to the Hodges campaign – the maximum amount. According to the report, Lewis also donated $250 to mayoral candidate Jackie Cherryhomes, while other lawyers in Lewis' firm made donations to Hodges and Mark Andrew.

Flowers supporters indicated confidence in Lewis, but was critical of the scope of his appointment, the Star Tribune reports. His attorney, Bobby Joe Champion would like Lewis to be assigned to the entire criminal investigation.

Lewis co-founded and is a shareholder of the Minneapolis law firm Nilan Johnson Lewis. He also served as the dean of Hamline University School of Law from 2008-13 and was an assistant U.S. Attorney for Minnesota from 1982-88.

He has been involved in some high profile investigations before. Most recently, Lewis led the independent investigation for the City of St. Paul into the 2013 landslide at Lilydale Regional Park that killed two children. He also conducted the University of Minnesota's investigation into allegations of academic fraud in its men's basketball program.

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