MPD cop lawsuits: Will bad info in a police personnel file cost the city still more $?

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While the discrimination lawsuit filed against the city of Minneapolis and Police Chief Timothy Dolan by five black MPD officers has received quite a bit of attention lately, a separate but related piece of litigation filed by one of the officers involved in that suit is wending its way through the courts at the same time.

On Monday, MPD Sgt. Charlie Adams gave a deposition following the complaint that he and the Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis filed against Dolan. The federation and Adams claim that Dolan made public statements that were damaging to Adams’ reputation, according to the complaint filed in Hennepin County earlier this year. Next week, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office will begin a criminal investigation into whether Dolan’s remarks violated state data practices laws. Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom said that the timeline for investigation is uncertain, but he hopes it will wrap up by the end of the month. Additionally, an arbitration hearing in the civil case is slated for Aug. 26, according to federation attorney Christopher Wachtler.

Furthermore, the federation and Adams maintain in the complaint that while Dolan had referred to “several incidences” of supposed insubordination on Adams’ part, the sergeant had never been disciplined before. Multiple sources tell the Minnesota Independent it has reportedly come to light through the discovery process that documentation of disciplinary actions taken against a former Minneapolis police officer with a similar name, Charles L. Adams, somehow surfaced in plaintiff Adams’ personnel file. The now-deceased Charles L. Adams had been suspended in the past for a 20-day period and later for 10 days for insubordination.

Dolan had spoken in various media about Adams’ removal from the Homicide Unit in November 2007. (Check out the MnIndy story here and another here.) The federation and Adams contend that the issue — which stemmed from Adams’ dispute with his then-supervisor, Lt. Amelia Huffman, who is now a captain — was private information. (Adams had been disciplined after he publicly questioned Huffman’s comments regarding the turn of events that led to a homicide in South Minneapolis.)

While one can only speculate whether the paper trail belonging to Adams’ namesake has played a role in these events, Police Community Relations Council member Ron Edwards (no relation to Lt. Lee Edwards) points out that the impact of the misinformation in Charlie Adams’ file may go back even further than that. Despite plaintiff Adams’ top rank, Edwards points out in a Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder column last week that Charlie Adams had mysteriously failed to obtain security clearance from the Secret Service during former President Bill Clinton’s visits to Minneapolis and that he was passed over for promotions.

“There are now serious concerns of how large was this very deep-rooted conspiracy to seriously injure the reputation of Charles F. Adams,” Edwards wrote, adding, “This all comes on the heels of revelations that there was never any evidence of wrongdoing involving Lt. Lee Edwards, who, as an outgrowth of false allegations against his person and reputation, was not only suspended with pay, but lost the chance to become the first African-American police chief in Northfield, Minnesota.”