MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - On the first day of trial for the alleged gunman accused of murdering a star Minneapolis North High student-athlete, the victim’s family is demanding authorities criminally investigate the school’s popular principal for her role in the tragic events of February 9, 2022.
In fiery comments to the media following court proceedings Tuesday, William Walker, the civil attorney for Deshaun Hill Junior’s family said, "We think the principal made a grave mistake and we believe it should be investigated by the appropriate authorities."
Hill was just 15 years old at the time he was killed in the middle of the school day, just blocks from campus. His family is holding Principal Mauri Friestleben negligent for what transpired, calling on either the Hennepin County Attorney’s office or Attorney General to convene a grand jury.
Hill’s parents argue they should have been notified students were leaving campus as part of an organized walkout Principal Friestleben participated in.
"Her job was to be a principal, not an activist," said Walker. "Her job was to be a principal to guard these children. And it didn't happen. It didn't happen."
Friestleben has admitted publicly, she disregarded district policy and MPS orders not to attend a student walk-out and protest to city hall in the aftermath of the deadly police shooting of Amir Locke.
The Hills believe her decision left the campus-wide open in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, putting their son near a bus stop a few blocks from campus when a chance encounter with Cody Fohrenkam led to the deadly shooting.
Deshaun’s mom has said she always drove the teen to and from campus to avoid the dangers of the neighborhood.
"Every day we wake up, it’s hard. It's very painful. Our son is not there. Our sister, our daughters don't have a brother," Hill’s mother Tuesday Sheppard explained.
Added Walker, "If it had been such that they had simply called the mother, called the father and told them, yes, school is going to be let out early today for whatever reason, the parents could have come and picked their children up. They didn't do any of that."
Friestleben was initially put on leave by MPS in the months after Hill’s slaying. She claimed she was fired, but was eventually reinstated as North High principal behind a groundswell of community support.
Just last week, the district signed off on a $500,000 settlement with the Hill family to end any potential civil litigation. But their attorney insists, it is not enough.
"That settlement will never bring D-Hill Junior back to life. And if one could turn back the hands of time and make a decision on whether or not they want to reach a settlement or have their son with them on Christmas, have their son with them on Thanksgiving, have their son on New Year's Day, hamburgers on weekends, have a milkshake together, there is no question, no question this family would decide and vote to have Deshaun Hill Junior with them every day," said Walker.
Principal Friestleben did not respond to an email inquiry from FOX 9’s Paul Blume Tuesday. Both MPS and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office declined to comment on the family’s request for a criminal investigation.
As for news from the courtroom, Judge Julie Allyn rejected a defense motion to delay Fohrenkam’s trial because of the publicity surrounding the case. She also denied their efforts to change venue and move it out of Hennepin County.
A panel of 50 jurors was sworn-in on Tuesday. The court will begin questioning them individually Wednesday.
One prospective juror was already released after she said she had watched the recent Showtime documentary "Boys in Blue" that features the North High Polar football team for which Hill played quarterback, as well as his murder.