Cop Facing Charges for Assaulting Four People, False Reporting, and Lying in Court

Rose Bouboushian | Courthouse News Service

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – A Minneapolis police officer accused of assaulting four people while off duty, falsifying reports and lying under oath cannot dismiss perjury charges, a federal judge ruled.

While off duty and representing himself as a Minneapolis police officer, Michael Griffin assaulted a person referred to in court records as I.R. on May 29, 2010, according to one indictment against Griffin.

Griffin also allegedly assaulted M.M., K.C., and J.A. under similar circumstances on Nov. 5, 2011.

Plus, Griffin falsified police reports on both incidents and gave false testimony under oath, the indictments allege.

A federal grand jury charged Griffin with deprivation of rights, falsification of records with intent to impede a federal investigation, and perjury at a civil deposition and at a civil trial.

On Jan. 19, U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel recommended that the Minneapolis federal court deny Griffin’s motion to dismiss two falsification counts and three perjury counts.

Griffin objected to those recommendations, arguing that because the three perjury counts allege that he made a total of 15 false statements in his depositions and at trial, they are impermissibly duplicitous.

But U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank tossed that claim aside Monday.

He said that “Individual statements within a single count would not necessarily require different proof of truth or falsity” and found that the three perjury counts are not duplicitous “because the statements in each count all relate to a single chain of events.”

“With respect to count 7, the statements are essentially Griffin’s version of what happened during the May 2010 incident. Testimony by witnesses to the May 2010 incident would likely support the truth or falsity of both statements, and separate witnesses for each statement would probably be unnecessary,” Frank wrote in a 12-page opinion. “Similarly, with respect to counts 8 and 9, the statements are essentially Griffin’s version of what happened during the November 2011 incident, and testimony by witnesses to the November 2011 incident would likely support the truth or falsity of all statements.”

The judge also rejected Griffin’s claim that the federal ban on falsification of records to impede a federal investigation is unconstitutionally vague as applied to him.

“Griffin may not avoid liability by claiming that he did not know that falsification of police reports would be likely to affect a subsequent federal investigation,” Frank wrote. “As such, the factual distinction claimed by Griffin is inapposite.”

In addition, the Minnesota Federal Court adopted the magistrate judge’s denial of Griffin’s requests to strike surplusage from the indictment, for a bill of particulars for the falsification counts, and to sever the counts related to the 2010 incident from those related to the 2011 incident.

Frank agreed with the magistrate judge’s finding that the alleged surplusage is “relevant to the charges in the indictment and that such relevance outweighs any prejudice to Griffin.”

“Further, the order noted that the court can cure any prejudice to Griffin by not reading the entire indictment to the jury,” the March 7 ruling states.

Frank also agreed with the magistrate judge that the 2010 and 2011 offenses were “properly joined” because “the underlying incidents were similar in character and occurred within a relatively short period of time.”

The parties did not return requests for comment emailed Tuesday.

Published by Courthouse News Service.