The Star Tribune Sunday carried a front page investigation into the controversial history of Minneapolis police officer Lucas Peterson. Sources told the newspaper that Peterson was the officer who shot and killed Terrance Franklin in the basement of a house in Uptown last month.
Peterson, a third generation Minneapolis cop, has been named in at least 13 excessive force complaints that have cost the city and other agencies more than $700,000 in settlements. Since 2006, the city settled nine claims involving Peterson, more than any other officer over the past seven years.
The newspaper reviewed several of those cases, including an incident from 2002. Peterson and another officer responded to a domestic dispute between Christopher Burns and his fiancée. According to the complaint, they put Burns in a neck hold that led to cardiac arrest. The Hennepin County medical examiner ruled Burns’ death a homicide. Although a grand jury determined the use of a neck hold was appropriate, the city paid $300,000 to settle the fiancee's excessive force lawsuit.
At the same time, Peterson is held in high regard by his many of his peers and supervisors. On the force since 2000, he was named the officer of the year for the Fourth Precinct in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He has twice been awarded the department’s Medal of Valor, most recently last month.
“Luke has been a great performer for the MPD,” said Tim Dolan, former Minneapolis chief.
The Hennepin County attorney’s office is reviewing the actions of Peterson and other officers to determine whether police were justified in shooting Franklin. Both Peterson and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau did not respond to the Star Tribune's requests for comment.