Use-of-Deadly-Force Investigations: When a law enforcement officer uses force and a person dies or is seriously injured, the officer(s) actions are investigated and reviewed under Minnesota statute
609.066, subdivision 2, to determine whether they were legally justified. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) will conduct a criminal investigation of an officer use-of-force incident if requested by the local jurisdiction.
Criminal Sexual Conduct Investigations: All sexual assault allegations involving Minnesota peace officers are also investigated by the BCA. Under Minnesota statute
299C.80, subdivision 3, a BCA investigation begins as soon as the agency is notified about an incident. Under
Laws of Minnesota 2021, 1st Special Session Chapter 11, Article 2, Sections 16 & 37 (effective Aug. 1, 2021) the BCA also investigates sexual assault cases involving two members of the Minnesota National Guard.
Conflict Investigations: The BCA also investigates conflict of interest cases involving peace officers. These are cases where the agency involved has a real or perceived interest in the outcome of the investigation.
The BCA conducts an independent and unbiased investigation to find out what happened, and then provides that information to a prosecutor (usually a county attorney) without recommendation. The prosecutor reviews the case under the law. The BCA does not determine whether an officer is guilty or innocent.
How the BCA Investigates Officer Use-of-Force Incidents
The BCA conducts a thorough and independent investigation of the incident. The BCA does not investigate whether officers followed their agencies policies or procedures. Rather, the BCA conducts a criminal investigation to determine the facts of the incident for review under Minnesota statutes.
Collecting Evidence and Conducting Interviews
BCA agents and crime scene personnel respond to the scene and immediately begin gathering information and evidence.
- BCA agents talk to people to find out who may have seen something or may have information that may be valuable to the BCA’s investigation. BCA agents interview witnesses as quickly as possible. Often, the information is gathered at the scene or at witnesses’ homes.
- Agents and scientists on the BCA crime scene team collect evidence from the scene including weapons, casings, vehicles and other items. They also photograph the scene, take measurements, and much more.
- Agents interview the parties involved in the incident away from the scene – at the BCA, at a hospital (if one of the parties is hospitalized), or at another location. Oftentimes an attorney representing one of the parties also attends their interview.
- The BCA cannot require any person to speak with investigators. The constitution protects the right of all parties (those involved in the incident and witnesses) to remain silent.
Examining Evidence and Conducting Follow-Up Interviews
- Scientists, medical examiners and other experts analyze the evidence to identify fingerprints, understand the direction of gunfire, find out who touched a weapon and whether it was fired, learn whether any of the parties were substance-impaired and much more. These processes can include many steps and often take weeks to complete.
- Once agents receive test results and other information about the evidence, agents will often interview the parties again with to ask follow-up questions.
- BCA agents provide updates to the prosecutor throughout the investigation. Once the agents have gathered all of the information and finished all of the interviews, they provide their findings to the prosecutor for review.
If one of the parties was killed during the incident, the BCA will ensure that the family is notified.
It is common practice for officers to be placed on administrative leave following a use of force incident. Their agency decides whether the officer(s) are placed on leave and for how long.
Statutes Related to Officer Use of Deadly Force
In this video, hear from agents about why their unbiased, independent approach is so crucial in building community trust.