Defense lays out case in Minneapolis police corruption trialby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Lawyers for Minneapolis police officer Mike Roberts called their first witnesses as the defense began its arguments in a police corruption trial. Earlier in the day, an FBI agent testified that Minneapolis police officer Mike Roberts admitted to agents he'd done something wrong.
St. Paul, Minn. — This morning an FBI agent testified that Officer Mike Roberts admitted to agents that he'd done something wrong. The admission came during an FBI interview held in April of 2008.
At first Roberts denied having shared non-public data with an undercover informant. But he changed his story after agents showed him video recordings taken secretly by the informant. In the video Roberts is seen sharing data from the squad computer with a man he knew to be a gang member. Each time the informant gives Roberts $100 dollars.
On the first occasion, Roberts says he gave the money to a friend who was standing near the transaction. After the second meeting Roberts is seen putting the money in his pocket.
The agent testified that Roberts admitted that he either spent the money he got after the second meeting or put it in the bank. Roberts also admitted that he filed a false police report which stated that he placed the money in police inventory.
Toward the end of the interview, one of the agents wrote up a statement and Roberts later signed it. In one section the statement reads: "I knew it was stupid, unethical and illegal to take the money."
But defense attorney F. Clayton Tyler challenged the veracity of the statement. He pointed out that Roberts wanted to include other things in the statement, but the agents refused. Tyler also mentioned that agents asked Roberts to wear a wire in an attempt to snag other corrupt police officers in the corruption investigation. Roberts refused.
The United States rested their case following the agent's testimony.
Roberts defense featured a string of former and current police officers. Sgt. Charlie Adams testified that some of the things Roberts is accused of doing, such as running license plate numbers for someone, is a fairly common practice. And he said Roberts epitomized Community Policing - a philosophy that encourages officers to walk beats and develop stronger ties with members of the public.
For example, Adams said a few years ago he was investigating a double homicide. Adams says Roberts knew the father of the homicide victims. Adams called Roberts and asked him to call the father to calm him down and keep him from retaliating against the suspect. He credits Roberts with preventing another killing.
Adams also said officers are commonly given perks, such as free or reduced meals in restaurants, or tickets to sporting events. Adams said he himself doesn't accept gifts in order to avoid ethics issues. But Adams added that over his 23-year career, no one has ever handed him cash.
The defense also called a man named Freddy Washington. Washington is a friend of informant Taylor Trump. He testified that Trump has a reputation for being dishonest. Trump is a convicted felon who is hoping that by cooperating with the FBI that he can get a reduction to a 20-year prison sentence he's facing from a drug, prostitution and mortgage fraud conviction.
The trial is expected to wrap up Thursday morning.
- All Things Considered, 05/13/2009, 5:45 p.m.