'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' Review: Documentary on Andrew Sadek's death is a caution against police autonomy

If anything, 'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' reaffirms the need for police reform since The SEMCA task force operates under self-autonomy


                            'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' Review: Documentary on Andrew Sadek's death is a caution against police autonomy
(Sundance Now)
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In 2014, 20-year-old college student Andrew Sadek went missing from his college dorms while he was working as a Confidential Informant (CI). Sadek had been apprehended in 2013 for selling marijuana and was told by the police he could be sentenced to a long time in prison. He agreed to work as a CI for a local multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task force in exchange for having the charges dropped.

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Under police supervision, he bought more marijuana from other dealers around the North Dakota State College of Science campus. The following year, when Sadek disappeared, the task force initially suspected that he had run away to avoid being a CI. They charged him with two felonies to motivate him to return.

However, two months after his disappearance, Sadek's body was found in the Red River near Breckenridge, Minnesota, just across from Wahpeton. The body was beyond recognition and was identified through dental records. 

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While the police believed Sadek's death to be a suicide, his parents did not — he was two weeks away from graduating when he disappeared, he had a new girlfriend and had even made plans for the weekend after his disappearance. Virtually no protection was given to Sadek as he carried out the dangerous work of a CI and after his body was found, no law enforcement agency took charge in finding out the truth behind his death.

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Sadek's death is the subject of a two-part docuseries airing on Sundance Now called 'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes'. 

Andrew Sadek (Sundance Now)

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In each episode, roughly 45 minutes long each, the docuseries takes a careful look at how the Southeast Multi-County Agency (SEMCA) task force roped in Sadek for selling $80 worth of cannabis. While the offense would have most probably gotten him just probation and/or community service, SEMCA officer and Richland County deputy sheriff Jason Weber told Sadek that he would be facing 40 years in prison.

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During this interrogation, Weber told him that it was best that Sadek keep the meeting and his work as a CI to himself and crucially did not inform Sadek of his right to an attorney.

Even while Sadek was working as a CI, Weber would periodically send messages to the student, telling him that he had to produce results — even giving him the deadline of May 1, 2014, to produce something useful for the police. Sadek had disappeared in the early hours of that day.

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Through the messages between the officer and the student, it was also clear that the police did not take any precautionary measures to keep Sadek safe and did not take any effort to stay updated on Sadek's whereabouts at all times. After Sadek disappeared, instead of investigating the case further, the police charged him with two felonies, which in turn, affected public opinion about Sadek and therefore affected their need to help look for the missing student.

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If anything, 'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' reaffirms the need for police reform. The SEMCA task force operates under self-autonomy. They are not answerable to anyone but themselves and perhaps when they operate in such a manner as they did with Sadek, it reinforces the need for additional regulation of police and law enforcement.

While 'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' just looks at Sadek, we cannot help but wonder that if the police were so lax with a young, white man, how many more cases of the police abusing their power would be present for people of color? 'The Dakota Entrapment Tapes' airs on Sundance Now on Tuesday, October 27, at 3 am EST.

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