Minnesota Drug Recognition Expert / Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) lawsuit depositions released; unscientific & abusive program used to punish people in court

After many months under the radar a lot of lawsuit testimony from police has been published in Minnesota's surprising DRE police training abuse scandal.

The relevant Drug Recognition Evaluator police officers got grilled under cross examination and said all kinds of things which undermine the basic scientific integrity which everyone assumes is behind programs like this. I am hoping this spurs more media attention. I haven't had much time to review these but I think they will reward your attention with any number of insane facts.

Occupy Minnesota participant Michael Bounds describes the experience late on the original video:

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There go two subjects:

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The new depos and funny word indexes are here: http://www.hansenlawoffice.com/DRE%20Depositions/Our%20depositions/ as PDFs.

Previously: MK Occupy Minnesota: Drugs & the DRE Program at Peavey Plaza - YouTube ( May 2 2012 )

Orig Writeup: MK Occupy Minnesota: Drugs & the DRE Program at Peavey Plaza | HongPong.com ( May 2 2012 )

BCA internal files primary reporting: MK Occupy Minnesota: The Drug Recognition Evaluator BCA Investigation files | HongPong.com (Nov 12 2012 )

A few more elements on the semi-suspended MN Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) program | HongPong.com (Nov 26 2012)

2012 BCA internal report first published here: http://hongpong.com/files/dre/DRE-investigation-BCA.pdf (78MB)

Here is attorney Nathan Hansen's latest post on the matter:

Depositions of Drug Recognition Evaluator defendants, drugs used for testing taken from teenagers in a park, homeless targeted, scientific method not understood by certified DRE, official reports falsified - March 25 2015

I have posted before on the blog about the civil lawsuit in which I represent Plaintiffs who were picked up by Minnesota law enforcement, driven near the airport, and given street drugs and told to use them. Subsequently, various clinical tests were run on these Plaintiffs by law enforcement to provide training so these officers could become "Drug Recognition Evaluators." Each officer needed to have 15 test subjects, and credit could be given for being a recorder for another officer doing the tests. Myself and co-counsel Alan Milstein took the depositions of several of these defendants wherein they testified under oath. I have now posted these depositions on my file server for anyone to review, in the public interest.

As an attorney who has done a lot of criminal defense work, in addition to bankruptcy and civil litigation, I have long maintained that the DRE program is nothing but preposterous unscientific charlatanism. Please understand the opinion of one of these officers can get you arrested and jailed sight on scene. However, do not take my word for it, here is testimony from one of the Drug Recognition Evaluators wandering the streets and arresting people presently, Deputy Bryce Schuenke, formerly of the Dakota County Sheriff's Office and now with the Prior Lake Police Department, who holds a "Master of Science in Public Safety" from St.Cloud State University, from page 17 of his deposition:

Q (by me): "Did you rely on, like, any learned treatises or scientific textbooks during the classroom portion of your training?"

A (Schuenke): "I didn't use scientific textbooks, no."

Q (by me): "There's no scientific textbooks used in the DRE training?"

A (Schuenke): "We had manuals, but I don't know if they came from a scientific source or not."

Q (by me): "What is an Institutional Review Board?"

A (Schuenke): "I don't---I don't know."

Q (by me): "What is a controlled experiment?"

A (Schuenke): "I am familiar with the term, but wouldn't be able to explain it."

Q (by me): "What is the scientific method?"

A (Schuenke): "Again, same"

Q (by me): "You don't know?"

A (Schuenke): "I don't know."

I reiterate that this is a person who Minnesota Courts qualify to testify in Court about whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs. His clinical opinion can land someone in jail very quickly and his testimony used to prove someone's intoxication.

These depositions are filled with wonderful information about the Minnesota Drug Recognition Evaluator Program. There are many stories in these depositions that are very newsworthy. One of the overarching themes of this program is that test subjects were given fake names, presumably to make sure their actual participation in this program could be concealed at a later date. Official DRE logs are replete with fake names and falsified police reports (fascinating how Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman forgot about Minnesota Statute 609.505, falsely reporting crime, in his charging decision relating to the DRE program). Officers testified under oath at these depositions that they put false names and false events in their official reports.

Another issue that the Plaintiffs were wondering about was the source of the drugs administered to the Plaintiff test subjects for these police experiments. For such a scientific program that trains officers to put people in jail by waving their hands around and looking at them, one would think there would be very careful controls and dosages for the drugs (I am setting aside for the moment that it is a farce to administer drugs to people and then test to conclude that they are under the influence of drugs). However, consistent with the entire Minnesota Drug Recognition Evaluator Program, the method the drugs were obtained is entirely unscientific, and there is no knowledge about what the drugs administered actually contain. In his deposition testimony, while questioned by my co-counsel, Alan Milstein, Hutchinson Officer explained how the drugs administered to the Plaintiff test subjects were obtained:

From page 15 of deposition of Karl Willers:

Q (by Milstein): "And there was at least one instance where you gave one of the people you evaluated Marijuana, correct"

A (Karl Willers): "Yes"

Q (by Milstein): "Was it only one instance?"

A (Karl Willers): "No."

Q (by Milstein): "How many instances were there?"

A (Karl Willers): "Four or five."

Q (by Milstein): "And where did you get Marijuana?"

There is a set of questioning from Karl Willers' deposition on pages 16 to 19 that his classmates, Mark Hanneman and Peter Zajac, had obtained the marijuana by taking it from teenagers who were smoking it in a park around Farmington. Herein lies more of the rigorous science and testing behind the Minnesota Drug Recognition Evaluator program.

Here are the depositions I have posted, which are all of them:

Karl Willers, Hutchinson Police Department

Bryce Schuenke, Dakota County Sheriff's Office, now with Prior Lake Police Department

Daniel Lewis, Kanabec County Sheriff's Office

Kenneth Willers, DRE with Minnesota State Patrol

Michael Hadland, Fillmore County Sheriff's Office

Nicholas Jacobson, Olmsted County Sheriff's Office

Steve Schultz, Kanabec County Sheriff

Riccardo Munoz, Minnesota State Patrol

These depositions and their contents speak for themselves. A reading of all of them together leads any reasonable mind to the conclusion that the DRE program is unscientific hocus pocus and its training methods constitute violations of civil rights. Further, the intentional targeting of Occupy Minnesota, the homeless, and other vulnerable populations is made clear in the testimony in these depositions.

I can be contacted at nathan.hansen@gmail.com

Unfortunately the program shifted to California where "transients" get coerced and abused some more, as recently reported: March 22 2015: CHP rounds up transients for police drug training | UTSanDiego.com: "They typically aren’t motorists – but people who are walking or sometimes riding bicycles who are arrested on suspicion of using illegal drugs, a misdemeanor. They are then brought to meet with trainees at certification sites, where interviews can last an hour or longer."

This disgusting story is another example of why it is essential to shut down this abusive war on drugs, wherein clearly young law enforcement officers are trained to fabricate information in reports -- which is unlawful, County Attorney Freeman -- and manipulate rather than aid the vulnerable with empathy. I hope that other activist orgs can see the light on this matter and work on this important goal in all haste, across the spectrum.

Disclosure: I worked professionally w Nathan on some web and design material previously. In the DRE matter I have not been compensated by him or any other media outlet, except by the shared gratification of defeating another abusive political program in my home state.

Doing my best "WTF" Palpatine style in drizzle..

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Also thanks to https://twitter.com/c1tyofFl1nt for noting there is even a trade association, http://datia.org , the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association. Let the measurements begin, one can only imagine the breathalyzers they break out at those conferences.

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