News from the County Attorney’s Office

Community Leadership Awards & info. about Domestic Violence Awareness Month


October 21, 2015


Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney 12-2013

Michael O. Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney
300 S. Sixth St.
Minneapolis, MN  55487

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We serve justice and public safety through our commitment to ethical prosecution, crime prevention, and through innovative and reasoned client representation.


15th Annual Community Leadership Awards honor citizens who make a difference

Sen. Klobuchar - Williams family

Sen. Klobuchar with 11-year-old Outstanding Citizen Award Winner Thalia Williams and her parents.

What leadership is truly about is starting each day with a compassionate heart and an alert conscious.”

-Tom Johnson, Keynote Speaker

Tom Johnson, who served three terms as Hennepin County Attorney, received the 2015 Community Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony held October 2. He was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar who was the County Attorney from 1999-2006. Current County Attorney Mike Freeman hosted the event, meaning that all county attorneys from 1979 to today were present.

Johnson stated “There were times when I had the opportunity to lead, but didn’t step up.” He observed up close the problems and challenges faced by the African American community and recalled thinking “Who was I, as a white guy, to waltz in and start suggesting ideas and telling black people what to do, when by doing so, I might be taking away leadership opportunities for African Americans themselves… I simply needed to ask if there were ways I could help. In other words, engage in dialogue with the African American community about how I might pitch in, in whatever way made sense.”

Other award recipients included:

  • 11-year-old Thalia Williams, who testified against the man who stabbed her father and then, just weeks later, reported a soda pop bomb that police had to detonate;
  • Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering and the Crystal Police Department for their investigation into the disappearance of young Barway Collins, which ultimately resulted in the conviction of his father for the boy’s murder;
  • Suzanne Tema, a social worker at Roosevelt High School, for her work with students and families;
  • Judy Johnston, a just-retired managing senior attorney in the County Attorney’s Office for her leadership in prosecuting crimes against children;
  • Ellen (Ellie) Krug who is the Executive Director at Call for Justice and is involved with anti-bias activities through the Hennepin County Bar Association and by telling her story as a transgender woman.

Click here to watch the video of the awards program.

Golden Valley man gets 96 months for car crash that killed two


Philip Scott Bertelsen, 56, of Golden Valley, was sentenced to eight years in prison for two counts of vehicular homicide in the horrific crash he caused on Nov. 3, 2013.

After about 90 minutes of emotional victim impact statements from the families of Melvin Jones and Brandy Banks-Sutta, a Hennepin County district judge sentenced Bertelsen to 96 months, the maximum under the law.

According to the criminal complaint, Jones, 20 and Banks-Sutta, 21, were stopped at a traffic light when they were rear-ended by Bertelsen’s Buick Sedan. Information from the crash data retrieval system indicated Bertelsen, who acknowledged that he was drunk at the time, was driving 107 miles per hour moments before the crash.

Click her to read what Melvin’s mother and Brandy’s sister said at the sentencing.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DV awareness

As reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence. Statistics show that same-sex couples also experience domestic violence at the same rate as straight couples.

Physical battering, sexual assault, emotional, psychological and financial abuse are the most common forms of domestic violence.  Abuse of an intimate partner generally escalates over time and only a fraction of incidents are ever reported.

One of the first steps in preventing domestic violence is raising awareness.You can do your part by wearing purple on Thursday, October 22.