October 25, 2020

Woman charged with damaging vehicle of lawyer for ex-cop charged in George Floyd case



Ruth Badger posing for the camera: Edith N. Okerlund


© Star Tribune/Star Tribune/Hennepin County jail/Star Tribune/TNS
Edith N. Okerlund

A 24-year-old woman has been charged with a felony for being among angry protesters and damaging the vehicle of a lawyer for a fired Minneapolis police officer implicated in the death of George Floyd.

Edith N. Okerlund, 24, of St. Paul, appeared in Hennepin County District Court on Friday on charges of first-degree property damage, a felony, and misdemeanor riot in connection with attorney Thomas Plunkett’s allegations that demonstrators threatened him, client J. Alexander Kueng, co-defendant Thomas Lane and another defense lawyer as they left the courthouse after a hearing last month.

Plunkett wrote in a memo filed in court on Oct. 1 that the encounter further supports the defense’s call for the four former officers’ trials to be moved out of Hennepin County.

Okerlund was arrested and jailed Wednesday, then released two days later. Messages were left for her Sunday seeking her response to the allegations.

According to the charges, first reported by KMSP-TV, Channel 9:

Plunkett and Earl Gray, the defense attorney for former officer Lane, were walking from the Hennepin County Government Center with their clients and heading to Plunkett’s vehicle parked at a meter on Sept. 11, when they were approached by roughly 20 people.

Plunkett said the group surrounded his vehicle and pounded on it with a drumstick, fists and a bicycle as they sat inside.

Gray said he saw a woman, later identified as Okerlund, strike Plunkett’s vehicle with a bicycle.

Plunkett added that some in the group were calling for him and Gray “to be murdered for their representation” of Kueng and Lane, the criminal complaint read.

Plunkett drove from the scene, saw the damage to his vehicle and provided an estimate to police that it was in excess of $2,000.

According to Plunkett’s filing: one protester punched and grabbed Gray; others blocked Lane as he walked on the street; and Lane was physically assaulted.

Attorneys for Kueng, Lane, and fellow defendants Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao are arguing that news coverage of Floyd’s May 25 death while in police custody has tainted the local jury pool. Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the case, has yet to rule on the matter.

Floyd died following his arrest on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill at a Cup Foods convenience store in south Minneapolis. The county medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, at least partly because of the police apprehension and officers’ restraint methods.

The killing, captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, went viral on the internet, prompting worldwide outrage and civil unrest in Minnesota and across the country.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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