Decorated Minneapolis cop pleads not guilty in excessive force indictment

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Minneapolis police officer Michael Griffin pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday to multiple federal charges related to accusations of excessive force.

KARE 11 reports Griffin, 40, remains free after posting a $25,000 unsecured bond. Griffin's pretrial hearing is scheduled for July.

"There's a reason we asked for an arraignment today, and that's because Officer Griffin is not guilty. And we wanted to plead not guilty as soon as possible," said Griffin's attorney, Ryan Kaess.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota announced a grand jury indicted Griffin on nine criminal counts, including use of excessive force and perjury.

The indictment alleges that while working off-duty in bars and restaurant, Griffin assaulted people during separate incidents in 2010 and 2011. Documents say Griffin also falsified records about those encounters and lied to authorities about them during depositions.

MPR News notes Griffin earned the Medal of Valor for his response to the mass shooting at Accent Signage in September of 2012. His public personnel file also contains an Award of Commendation from 2009.

Griffin has been investigated more than a dozen times but never been disciplined. He is connected to two police brutality lawsuits that have cost the city of Minneapolis more than $400,000.

The Star Tribune notes Griffin was accompanied in court by Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis police union.

Ron Edwards, spokesperson for the Black Police Officer's Association, told MPR he suspects that Griffin, who is African-American, "is partly the victim of a double standard," noting that other white officers have been the subject of more expensive lawsuits.

Meanwhile, KSTP reports a group calling itself the Committee for Professional Policing in Minneapolis said the city should not bear the burden for the type of police misconduct Griffin is accused of.

On its website, the group claims police brutality has cost Minneapolis taxpayers $20 million over the past seven years – a number similar to what MPR previously reported.

The group’s organizer solicited signatures on a petition to require Minneapolis police officers to pay for their own professional liability insurance premiums – the same way a doctor takes out malpractice insurance, the website says.

The group wants to place an amendment to the city charter on the next election ballot.

The leader of the Minneapolis Police Federation said the police labor agreement and a state law would block the city from implementing such a requirement.

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