Judge suspends Minnesota’s tougher standards on deadly force

Posted at 11:45 AM, September 14, 2021 and last updated 8:22 PM, July 17, 2023

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A judge has suspended Minnesota’s new stricter standards on when police can use deadly force, halting a change in state law that followed the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police.

Protesters clash with police, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. The family of Daunte Wright, 20, told a crowd that he was shot by police Sunday before getting back into his car and driving away, then crashing the vehicle several blocks away. The family said Wright was later pronounced dead. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

The new standards, passed by the Legislature in 2020, raised the bar on officers to justify in specific terms how their actions involving lethal force were necessary.

Several law enforcement lobbying groups  filed a legal challenge to get the law tossed out or at least suspended until more officers could be trained on the new expectations.

Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro on Monday ruled that the changes to the law will be put on hold until the lawsuit is complete and that the use of force conditions will revert to those that were in place before the new law went into effect in March. Castro said oral arguments will take place within 60 days, the  Star Tribune reported.

“The public policy implications are severe, and it is imperative that we get this right,” Castro wrote in his order.

The 2020 law change no longer allows officers to justify deadly force by claiming that they used such force to protect themselves or another person from “apparent” death or great bodily harm. The new law now reads, “to protect the peace officer or another from death or great bodily harm.”

Castro declined to grant Gov. Tim Walz’s motion to dismiss the case after the governor argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. The plaintiffs include the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and Law Enforcement Labor Services Inc.

More In: