Families of 5 men killed by police in Minnesota sue BCA

It's been nearly a year since Tara Sykes' son, Brent Alsleben, was killed by Hutchinson police while suffering a mental health crisis.

But Sykes says the pain of his death is compounded by not having all the information about why the officers involved took her son's life.

"It's wrong for families to not know all of the evidence," said Sykes.

The families of five men killed by police across Minnesota are suing the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), claiming the agency has failed to comply with the state's open records law.

The lawsuit says once a family member makes a request, the BCA has 10 days to give them the completed investigative file into their loved one's death after the county attorneys decide not to charge the officers, but in some cases, they've been delayed anywhere from a couple of months to a year.

"There are photos of the crime scene. There are reports from the officers. There's ballistic reports. There's autopsy reports, There's video footage from body-worn cameras, or nearby surveillance cameras. There's transcripts of the 911 calls, audio can be all kinds of things," attorney for the families, Paul Bosman said. 

Bosman says the long delays make it hard for the next of kin to file wrongful death lawsuits within the state's three-year statute of limitations, and gaining a full understanding of what happened to their loved one can help grieving family members move on.

"Knowing the truth rather than just the press releases from the police department makes all the difference," said Bosman.

In addition to the investigative data, Sykes believes the BCA still has some of her son's personal belongings, like his class ring, cell phone and wallet, and getting them back would go a long way towards helping her heart heal.

"What went through their minds? Why did they find that that was justified, and no charges are brought for killing somebody," said Sykes.

In a statement sent to FOX 9, the BCA said, "We understand that families who have experienced these tragic losses would want all of the information that they can have as soon as possible. Once a case is closed, the BCA must review every report, image, audio and video in the casefile to ensure that information that isn’t public is removed as required under Minnesota law. This requires review of dash camera, body-worn camera, and surveillance video; all other images and audio of the incident; and voluminous reports. The BCA is committed to providing information to families and the public as quickly as possible, while ensuring the protection of information that we cannot release under Minnesota law."