MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - In a bizarre lawsuit, six people claim police ran an "unethical clinical trial," getting them high on illegal drugs to study them on dope, even giving them pot to take home - in exchange for information on the Occupy movement.
The plaintiffs claim police officers picked them up, gave them large quantities of marijuana and other illegal drugs, observed them while drugged, then dropped them off, "in a high and incoherent state."
The police even gave them Baggies full of pot to take home, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say the police lured homeless people and drug addicts with food, cigarettes and illegal drugs to use and take home, and even threatened to arrest them if they did not participate.
Police did no medical evaluations first, and one man, who says he has schizophrenia and epilepsy, claims police picked him up, told him, "we'll get you high," then gave him "a quarter of a baggie filled with marijuana to take home in 'exchange' for information on the Occupy Minneapolis movement."
Lead plaintiff Michael Bounds sued Minnesota, the Minnesota State Patrol, Sgt. Riccardo Munoz, "The 26 Participants in the 2012 'Drug Recognition Evaluators Program,' who are named, and their many police departments, in Federal Court.
Bounds claims the defendants gave illegal drugs to Occupy Minneapolis protesters, homeless people and drug addicts, to study their behavior while high, as part of the "Drug Recognition Evaluators" (DRE) program.
"The DRE program was essentially an unethical clinical trial whereby armed police officers provided vulnerable members of the public with substantial quantities of marijuana (presumably obtained from police evidence in other cases), encouraged them to get high, observed them, and then abandoned them while they were still high," the complaint states.
"This program purportedly existed for the purpose of allowing law enforcement to understand what individuals look and act like while high.
"In actuality, the parties that designed and ran the program wished to target members of Occupy Minneapolis, members of the homeless population, and other vulnerable members of the population and see what quantity of drugs their bodies could tolerate." (Parentheses in complaint).
The plaintiffs say police never asked about their medical history, and did not provide them with an informed consent form, in violation of federal laws governing human subject research.
Lead plaintiff Bounds, an Occupy Minneapolis protester who suffers from epilepsy and schizophrenia, claims two officers got him high on marijuana and dropped him off in downtown Minneapolis without running any tests on him.
"On or around April 26, 2012, Mr. Bounds encountered two armed officers participating in the DRE program," the complaint states.
"Mr. Bounds was asked whether he was high; he responded that he was not. One of the officers in turn responded, 'That's alright, we'll get you high.'
"Officers then provided him with a substantial quantity of powerful marijuana.
"Officers did not conduct any evaluation of him afterwards; rather, he was simply released in downtown Minneapolis while high.
"Mr. Bounds was also given a quarter of a baggie filled with marijuana to take home in 'exchange' for information on the Occupy Minneapolis movement."
The other plaintiffs describe similar experiences.
Forest Olivier, another Occupy member, claims two officers put him in the back of a squad car, where he smoked "a substantial quantity of marijuana" that the police gave him.
"The defendants' unethical and illegal conduct was first brought to light by Occupy Minneapolis; in response, officers falsely denied the allegations and attempted to cast doubts upon the truthfulness of the Occupy members," the complaint states.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated after officers in the program made the same allegations, according to the complaint.
"During the investigation, one officer testified as to his belief that instructors 'skirted the line' in connection with the program, while another testified that 'morals are gone,'" the complaint states.
Two of the officers admitted providing illegal drugs to people, while others refused to speak to the Bureau, the complaint states. The DRE program was suspended after the investigation, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs seek more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions and federal and state laws, and they want Minnesota enjoined from running the program again.
They are represented by Nathan Hansen of North St. Paul.
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