Minneapolis mayoral candidate Al Flowers filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County on Wednesday, Oct. 7, alleging that authorities set him up when he was recently cited for marijuana possession in conjunction with a search warrant investigation at a Crips gang member’s Edina home. He denies having pot, saying that cops on the scene construed it that way, while also stealing property from him and violating his constitutional rights.
In the 11-page complaint, he goes so far as to question the validity of the search warrant, because of the role of a confidential reliable informant (CRI) in the investigation, criticizing them as “criminals themselves” who often provide bad information. Further, he says the court schedule won’t permit him to clear his name before the November election.
Flowers, who is one of 10 people running against Mayor R.T. Rybak, was present when the Hennepin County Violent Offenders Taskforce (VOTF) conducted a surprise search warrant at the Edina home of Crips gang member Brandon Michael Wilson at 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 23, according to the warrant and Hennepin County Sheriff’s spokesperson, Lisa Kiava, who said she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
According to the warrant, and the county sheriff’s office, Wilson had been selling cocaine and large amounts of marijuana. It also states that he’d been arrested seven times for narcotics violations, mostly crack cocaine, including sale to an undercover officer. Wilson had also been arrested once for a handgun-involved assault, it continues, and four times for domestic assault. A Dakota County complaint separately shows two pending fifth-degree felony drug charges against Wilson.
Wilson was arrested and booked in the Hennepin County jail based on “probable cause” for weapons violations, Kiava said. In Flowers’ case, she said that the courts would decide whether to fine him. State statute dictates that the fine could run from $128 to $300, but it fluctuates, Kiava explained, adding that the amount could be less.
As for the circumstances surrounding Flowers being “physically there,” when VOTF executed the warrant at the home, she said she didn’t have any other details about his relationship with Wilson. “[Flowers] wasn’t the target of the search,” said Kiava.
At the home, officers found mailings for Flowers, along with his wallet, ID and an advertisement for him, according to the warrant receipt. (A baggie with marijuana “blunts” was found in the same bedroom as one of the mailings, it states.) Other baggies of marijuana, miscellaneous gang photos, a handgun, digital gram scale, $860 cash and more, was listed.
In his press release and complaint, which names Hennepin County Deputy Erik Fleck, Deputy Matt Lunde, Sergeant Joe Poidinger and five John Does, Flowers claims that officers took from him $240 and a laptop computer, but didn’t inventory that. “Law enforcement likely assumed the laptop computer contained campaign information. Law enforcement had no legitimate need for the laptop computer, or the Mayoral campaign information, or the $240,” the complaint reads.
He also states that he was ordered to put down his cell phone and that it was later “”found” in a certain room in order to support the implication that he was somehow connected to the marijuana.”
Earlier this week, Flowers, who describes himself on his Web site as a community activist, father and small business owner, characterized the event as politically motivated, saying in another press release that “‘opponents of change’ would use every tactic under the sun to discredit our campaign and silence the many citizens who are demanding more from status quo politicians.”
In the press release, Flowers, who wants his property returned and $50,000-plus in damages, says that he’s suffered various forms of harassment, including the citation and having his home condemned, because he’s “running for Mayor on a platform of truth, and reform of law enforcement and other government.”
The Star Tribune recently reported that Flowers paid $468.98 fine on a past-due water bill at the Southwest Minneapolis home he rented, which lifted a city condemnation order. The Star Tribune adds that in 1999, he pleaded guilty to possessing a small amount of marijuana.
His attorney is Jill Clark, who has represented him in other lawsuits, including against the city of Minneapolis and Councilman Don Samuels, as the Minnesota Independent mentions. Calling these latest actions a smear campaign, he states, “with over 60 percent of us having some sort of trumped up charges filed against us by the police during our lifetimes, none of us would be able to enter the home of any friend or family member for fear of having some guilt-by-association accusation hurled at us by the police and drive-by media.”