Minnesota virus positivity rate reaches 15.6% in new record
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate over the past seven days reached 15.6% on Friday, in an indication of the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the state. State health officials said the figure demonstrates the increasing spread of the omicron variant and expect a new surge of case growth for at least the next month. Minnesota’s previous positivity rate record come early in the pandemic in April 2020, when testing capacity was much more limited. The Minnesota Hospital Association is urging people to look for tests in settings other than hospital emergency rooms due to a high number of patients statewide.
GEORGE FLOYD-OTHER OFFICERS
Both sides seek to delay state trial for cops in Floyd death
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys for three former Minneapolis officers who are charged in the death of George Floyd are asking a judge to postpone their state trial while a federal civil rights trial goes forward. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are scheduled to go to trial on state charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter on March 7. The three also face a federal trial on Jan. 20 on charges alleging they violated Floyd’s civil rights. Prosecutors and defense attorneys filed a request Friday to have the state trial postponed, saying it’s not known how long the federal trial will last. They’re asking for an informal conference to set a new trial date.
St. Paul man charged with murder in assault
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A St. Paul man has been charged with murder after he allegedly hit a man so hard the man died a week later. The Pioneer Press reported 39-year-old Phillip Charles Jones was charged Friday with unintentional second-degree murder in connection with the death of 51-year-old Carlos Venceslado Rocha. Police went to Rocha’s apartment Dec. 20 and found his face was bloody and swollen. Medics cleared him but when officers returned to his apartment Dec. 27 to check on him they found him dead. According to a criminal complaint, others living in Rocha’s apartment said Jones hit Rocha after Rocha asked him to move his things, which were blocking a hallway.
Investigators trying to ID human remains in burned vehicle
CALEDONIA, Minn. (AP) — Investigators in southeastern Minnesota are working to identify human remains discovered in a burned vehicle. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the Houston County Sheriff’s Office received a report Wednesday morning of a burned vehicle in Beaver Creek Valley State Park outside Caledonia. Deputies discovered human remains in the vehicle. The sheriff’s office is working with the state fire marshal and the Southeastern Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office to identify the remains.
Minnesota activist, journalist Mel Reeves dies from COVID-19
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Longtime Minneapolis civil rights activist and journalist Mel Reeves died Thursday from complications due to COVID-19. Reeves, 64, was a fixture in Twin Cities activism where he advocated for social justice and spoke out against police brutality. He served as the community editor for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest Black-owned newspaper, which announced his death. The Star Tribune reported Reeves was hospitalized last month with complications due to the virus. Reeves urged people to get vaccinated in an interview with WCCO-TV the week before he died. He is survived by his son, Kellen, and five grandchildren.
Additional calls for Hennepin County sheriff to resign
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — There are more calls for the resignation of Hennepin County’s sheriff who was recently convicted of drunken driving. Five of Hennepin County’s seven commissioners and a Minneapolis City Council member have joined others that have called for Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to resign. Authorities say Hutchinson’s blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed his county-owned SUV last month in Alexandria. Investigators say the sheriff repeatedly denied that he was behind the wheel. County board chairman Marion Greene tweeted Thursday that Hutchinson’s “actions and subsequent comments have eroded public confidence” in his ability to serve.
Man found guilty in Menards kidnapping case in South Dakota
WATERTOWN, S.D. (AP) — The man accused of trying to kidnap a child while he was working at the Menards in Watertown has been convicted by a jury. Thirty-nine-year-old Peter Groenhoff of Canby, Minnesota was found guilty of second-degree kidnapping Thursday. The charges stem from an incident in May of 2018. Prosecutors say Groenhoff was working at Menards when he picked up a 4-year-old child and quickly walked away from the youngster’s family. The child’s father pursued Groenhoff and told him to stop, but Groenhoff continued on until he was caught in the employee break room. Police eventually arrived and arrested him. A sentencing date has not been set.
GEORGE FLOYD-NIECE SHOT
Late response to shooting of Floyd grandniece prompts review
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston police and city officials are investigating an hourslong delay by authorities in responding to a shooting early on New Year’s Day in which the 4-year-old grandniece of George Floyd was wounded while she slept in her Houston apartment. The family of Arianna Delane says the girl was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when someone fired several shots into their apartment at about 3 a.m. on Saturday. LaTonya Floyd, George Floyd’s older sister and the girl’s great-aunt, says when police and paramedics didn’t immediately arrive after the family called 911, they drove Arianna to the hospital. Arianna’s family says police didn’t arrive until around 7 a.m. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner says his agency is investigating the delayed response.
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