Exclusive: A Former MPD Lieutenant Reported Another Cop. He Says He Paid a Price.
When Rich Jackson saw the footage that ultimately helped set in motion his exit from the Minneapolis Police Department, the then-lieutenant had a three-word reaction: “What the hell?”
The footage — which appears in Police on Trial, a new documentary from FRONTLINE and Minneapolis’ Star Tribune — shows then-Minneapolis police officer Ty Jindra jamming his gun to the temple of a suspect.
“The guy is on the hood. His hands are behind his back; he’s not fighting; he’s not being uncooperative,” Jackson, who has never before spoken publicly about his issues and concerns with the MPD, tells producer Marcia Robiou in the above excerpt from the documentary. “Jindra takes his gun and jams it into his temple. … Then he grabs his head, repositions it, slams it back down on the car. What is he doing? And then I look at all the other officers: Everybody’s just handcuffing.”
Had the gun fired, Jackson says, “it would’ve blew the kid’s head off.”
Jackson soon learned of another complaint involving Jindra, this one at a traffic stop: “He pulls the kid out of the car — doesn’t even ask for a driver’s license, proof for insurance or nothing — just snatches him out the car, puts a gun to his head.”
Seeing a pattern in the two videos, Jackson got in touch with Internal Affairs.
Then, he says, came the blowback.
“After Jindra got relieved of duty, it happened about two days later. It came out: ‘Oh, Rich is a snitch; Rich is going after cops,’” Jackson says in the documentary. “It was horrible. And it was very demoralizing, being a lieutenant. And I can just imagine how my sergeants felt. It angered me a lot, because I became a police officer to do the right thing, not to hide stuff. I became a police officer to protect our communities and keep them safe, not to enable bad behavior by officers.”
Ty Jindra ultimately would be convicted of multiple federal charges. Jackson would go on to leave the department.
Jackson’s account in Police on Trial comes two years after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, an event that sparked mass demonstrations for racial justice and police accountability, both nationwide and in Minneapolis. In April 2021, Chauvin was convicted of murder in state court; he is appealing. Of the three other former officers involved in the incident, one pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in May 2022; the other two officers are expected to stand trial on state charges in June. In separate federal civil rights cases, Chauvin pleaded guilty, and the three others were convicted by a jury.
From director Mike Shum (American Voices), reporter and producer Robiou, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters at the Star Tribune, the documentary Police on Trial, which premiered May 31 on PBS as part of FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, examines the systemic problems with policing in Minneapolis that preceded Floyd’s murder and the status of the efforts at accountability that followed it.
An April 2022 report from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found the city’s police force has engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination over the past decade and that problem officers have not been held accountable.
In the above excerpt from Police on Trial, Robiou and Jackson discuss a process within the police department called “coaching,” which is supposed to be a form of corrective action reserved for minor policy violations.
According to Jackson: “So, if you have an officer who is quote-unquote a problem officer, a coaching document can be used to shield an officer who has a proven record of policy violations. But in that same respect, there’s only so much that you can protect before it comes to light. And then when it does come to light, then it becomes very obvious.”
From his perspective, Jackson says, officers like Chauvin could’ve been stopped sooner.
“What happened with George Floyd and with other cases, those officers are responsible, yes, absolutely, and they have some weight in that,” Jackson says. “But what did the administration do to curtail this or to divert this or keep this from happening before it even got to this point? And when you look at it from my perspective, they had four or five different opportunities to take care of this before it even got to George Floyd.”
For the full story, watch Police on Trial, now streaming above, on FRONTLINE’s website, the PBS Video App and our YouTube channel. The documentary is part of FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, an innovative effort to support and strengthen investigative reporting in communities around the country funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Produced in association with the Center for Asian American Media, the documentary is supported by The WNET Group’s Exploring Hate initiative.
Police on Trial is a FRONTLINE production with Five O’Clock Films in association with Mike Shum Productions and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The writer, director and producer is Mike Shum. The producer and reporter is Marcia Robiou. The reporters are Libor Jany, Andy Mannix, Liz Navratil, Liz Sawyer and Chao Xiong. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.