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County Attorney: No Charges in Killing of Winston Smith

Plus: cops with their hands out, a possible Rondo reconnection, and never-ending COVID in today's Flyover.

A memorial near the site where Winston Smith was killed.
Jay Boller

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily noontime(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Well, That Doesn’t Clear Anything Up

Crow Wing County Attorney Donald Ryan said yesterday that he will not press charges against the law enforcement officers who shot and killed Winston Smith in an Uptown Minneapolis parking garage in June. Ryan, who took over the case because the Hennepin County Attorney’s office might have a conflict of interest, concluded that the officers, who were part of a U.S. Marshals Task Force, were justified in using force, because it appeared that Smith was reaching for a gun. Plenty of questions remain unanswered about the shooting. While police say they found a firearm that had been discharged in the vehicle, Norhan Askar, the passenger in Smith’s car, has said she never saw a gun, and also that the officers never identified themselves. And Ryan’s five-page report raises additional questions: It mentions using body camera footage to make its determination, while the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, has said previously there is no such footage. The garage where Smith was killed is now under 24-hour private surveillance and an adjacent lot is fenced off with barbed wire. 

Mpls Paying Cops’ Comp in Installments 

Speaking of cops—doesn’t it seem like we’re always speaking of cops these days?—the City of Minneapolis now owes so much in workers compensation settlements to police officers that it’s begun paying out claims over three or four years, rather than in a lump sum. So reports Deena Winter at the Reformer. The city has $5 million budgeted for claims in 2022 and another $5 million for the following year. Why so much? Well, Minneapolis police filed a whopping 200 PTSD claims since the murder of George Floyd last may. Just another reminder that cop$ are expen$ive. 

Rondo Reconnected?

The destruction of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood still stings six decades after I-94 ripped the majority-Black, culturally rich community in two. A $450 million project could help right that historical wrong by creating a five-block, 22-acre land bridge between Chatsworth Street and Grotto Street. The new state budget bill infused the project with an initial $6.2 million, Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine reports. Take a look at that cool rendering! “It will be an African American cultural district where you bring together legacy, history, culture, and programming,” Marvin Roger Anderson of ReConnect Rondo tells the magazine, noting that the project would create 500 new homes and 1,400 jobs. It might take two years before any potential deal is finalized, but Anderson is taking the longview: “I’m not afraid to plant a tree and let somebody else enjoy the shade.”

COVID’s Not Over, Part 746,768

Today’s 8.3% COVID-19 test positivity rate in Minnesota is the highest since vaccination began and our hospitalization level is also at its peak for the vax era, the Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson reports. That’s sure not good. What else is bad? We’re seeing an increasing number of breakthrough cases in the vaccinated, and our new infection rate for the past week is seventh worst in the nation. Well, here’s some good news at least: “While vaccines might be losing some effectiveness at preventing any infections,” Olson writes, “studies show they remain protective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.” Here’s to not dying.