Update: A plea deal has been reached in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the killing of George Floyd.
According to the Associated Press, Chauving will be sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison. U.S District Judge Paul Magnuson accepted the plea deal in the federal civil rights trial for the May 25, 2020 incident.
Contrary to his pleas of innocence last fall, convicted former Minneapolis police officer Ty Jindra now is admitting he lied to his attorneys and did in fact take and use drugs from people he pulled over in traffic stops.
“I am ashamed and feel extreme guilt for abusing my position to take pills from those I encountered on the street, and I admit to committing the crimes I have been convicted of,” Jindra said, according to a court document filed Wednesday in advance of his sentencing. A date for sentencing has not yet been set.
Jindra’s attorneys are asking U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to give him a reduced prison sentence, saying he has learned from his mistakes and will work to carry the message of sobriety to other military veterans like himself and to first responders.
Under a court order issued by Frank, the U.S. Attorney’s office was supposed to file its own brief by Wednesday, spelling out its position on what Jindra’s sentence should be. At midnight Thursday, Michelle Jones, one of the two U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Jindra, filed a motion with the court, asking for the deadline to be extended one day “due to a convergence of pressing matters.”
A federal jury in St. Paul on Nov. 2 found Jindra guilty on three counts of confiscating drugs during traffic stops for his own personal use, and two counts of seizing drugs in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. He was acquitted on six other counts.
During a nine-day trial, defense attorneys Peter Wold and Aaron Morrison portrayed Jindra as a proactive police officer who operated in good faith and was eager to get major drug dealers off the streets. They said he gave breaks to small-time drug users in hopes of gaining information and that he sometimes cut corners, throwing away the drugs he confiscated rather that turning them over to the property crimes unit.
According to Wold in his closing arguments, prosecutors never said what Jindra did with the drugs he allegedly confiscated. “Either they prove Ty Jindra is a drug addict or he is not guilty,” Wold said.
Federal prosecutor Amber Brennan said in her closing arguments that Jindra could have used the drugs himself or sold them, and suggested that whether he was addicted or not wasn’t relevant.
Jindra was convicted of stealing the controlled substance Tramadol during one stop, surreptitiously diverting pills for his own use, then failing to mention he’d discovered them when he filed a report. He was found guilty of keeping a portion of some methamphetamine that a Minneapolis resident found in a bag on her roof, and taking some oxycodone pills for himself during another traffic stop.
He also was convicted of two civil rights violations: conducting an illegal search in 2017 after stopping a driver at a service station for a tag violation, and conducting an illegal search and seizure of drugs in 2019 after stopping three juveniles in a vehicle that slowly rolled through a stop sign.
In the document filed Tuesday, defense attorney Morrison said that Jindra was “crushed by the trauma” he experienced as a veteran in the Iraqi war and as a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis. He first turned to prescription drugs and then street drugs, Morrison wrote.
According to the document, Jindra said: “I should have handled my mental health issues honestly and in a healthy way, but instead I began drinking almost every day to blackout and taking whatever prescription pills I could find to numb the pain. When I ran out of my own prescribed Xanax, I began to search for more drugs in the worst way possible — at work as a police officer.”
Jindra said his “biggest regret” was “withholding the full truth from both my attorneys and my close family.” He said he chose to go to trial even though “I had committed several of the crimes I was charged with …, The jury in my case made the correct decisions and I respect them for that.”
According to Morrison’s filing, sentencing guidelines call for 33 to 41 months in prison, though previous court decisions have called for less time.
The trial spelled out a history of troubling behavior by Jindra that is likely to get significant scrutiny from the judge. Most of the police stops that Jindra made to steal drugs occurred in the Black community, when he would pull over people of color for minor infractions and then conduct searches in hopes of finding street drugs.
During some of those stops, Jindra was working as a field training officer. Body camera and squad camera video showed him pocketing the drugs and hiding the theft from unsuspecting trainees.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s field training procedures have come under fire since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 by officer Derek Chauvin, who was operating as a field trainer on the day that he murdered Floyd by putting a knee on his neck.