Minnesota investigation into 'Storm the Capitol' rally was closed within a week

Last year, the speaker of the Minnesota House promised a broad investigation into a rally at the Capitol in St. Paul where pro-Trump activists lodged violent rhetoric and alleged widespread voter fraud.

But the investigation called for by House Speaker Melissa Hortman petered out within a week, public documents show. Documents obtained through a public records request show the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s cyber crime unit investigated the complaint — tracking down additional comments on social media and calling one person who made questionable statements — and closed the case a week later.

The Brooklyn Park Democrat called for an investigation into the “Storm the Capitol” rally after some speakers talked about “casualties,” civil war and made veiled threats toward the governor. The rally was held on the same day that a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., briefly delaying the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Hortman said the investigation could lead to criminal charges and would be led by the BCA, which did look into comments made by Alley Waterbury, a Republican Party leader from Plymouth. She warned of casualties and said “I will be the first casualty. I don’t care.”

Waterbury also warned Gov. Tim Walz “we will come for you” and “do whatever we need to do” because “we have nothing else to lose.”

Five days into the investigation, a BCA agent and State Patrol sergeant interviewed Waterbury on the phone, and she told them her comments about Walz weren’t advocating violence but were made out of frustration about businesses being closed.

“Waterbury stated she had called everything off,” the BCA report said.

A 59-year-old man named Raul Javier Estrada — address unknown — was also named as being the person who made comments about being on the “threshold of a civil war” because the country is being choked off by “weeds” of communism, socialism and “leftist liberals.” But the report doesn’t indicate the agents talked to him because BCA Investigator Joe Murphy wrote that Estrada’s comments didn’t contain a threat and were political speech.

The case was closed on Jan. 21 because it didn’t meet the threshold for charges, after the BCA consulted with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. At the time, Hortman released a statement saying the First Amendment permits speech that is “false, misleading, and hateful, and it is a high bar for an individual’s speech to cross the line and to constitute criminal activity.”

“The BCA concluded that bar was not met in this case,” she wrote. “Nevertheless, false, misleading, and hateful speech has consequences. It creates an environment of fear and division, can cause harm to individuals targeted by such speech, and it makes it more difficult for us to work together and solve problems.”

Six House lawmakers attended or spoke at the rally: Susan Ackland of St. Peter; Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa; Mary Franson of Alexandria; Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe; Eric Lucero of Dayton; and Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

IN OTHER NEWS: Florida Republicans effectively 'nullified' Black state rep's election by refusing to send certification letter

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Lawyers lay out opposing views of police shooting that killed Daunte Wright

Prosecutors said Kimberly Potter failed at her primary duty as a police officer, to protect the sanctity of life, and violated many years of training when she fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.

“We trust them not to use those weapons rashly or recklessly and we expect not to be shot dead on the street for no reason,” said Erin Eldridge, an assistant attorney general for Minnesota. “We trust them to know wrong from right, and left from right.”

Potter’s attorney said she fired her gun by mistake, thinking it was her Taser, as she was trying to prevent Wright from driving off and possibly injuring or killing her fellow officers who were restraining him.

Defense attorney Paul Engh said all Wright had to do was surrender, and Potter thought if Wright drove off, her sergeant — who was holding the gear shift — would have been dragged “dangling” from the car.

“She can’t let him leave because he’s gonna kill her partner,” Engh said.

In opening statements in the trial of Potter on Wednesday, each side laid out their version of what led up to the fatal shooting on April 11.

Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines call for seven years for first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree manslaughter, but prosecutors have said they would seek a longer sentence.

Wright was killed during the trial of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin, who became the first officer in Minnesota to be convicted of murder for an on-duty killing.

Wright’s death reignited protests and riots over police brutality against Black people in the small suburban city north of Minneapolis and renewed calls for police reform at city hall and the state Capitol.

The traffic stop

The day he was killed, Wright was on his way to get a car wash with his girlfriend, Alayna Albrecht-Payton.

Potter was with the new officer she was training, Anthony Luckey, when he noticed Wright’s blinker signaling a right turn even though he was in the left turning lane. He said he also noticed the air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, which is technically against the law, and that the car’s registration tab had expired.

Luckey, who grew up in adjacent Brooklyn Park, testified that “intuition” prompted him to call for backup right away, and he estimated about 40% of residents have guns in their cars.

After he approached the vehicle, he noticed the odor of marijuana and saw marijuana residue in the car. He said Wright did not have a driver’s license or proof of car insurance.

While Luckey went back to the squad car, Wright called his mother, Katie Bryant.

Through tears, Bryant testified that her son told her he was pulled over for the air freshener and asked about insurance.

She told him to hand the phone to the cop so she could explain that they hadn’t added the car to her policy yet.

“He just sounded really nervous, but I reassured him that it would be OK,” Bryant testified.

In the squad car, Potter and Luckey learned there was a warrant for Wright’s arrest for failing to appear on a gross misdemeanor weapons violation. So they and Sgt. Mike Johnson, who had arrived on scene, returned to the car to arrest Wright.

Body and dash camera footage showed as Luckey was trying to handcuff Wright, he jerked away.

“Don’t do it bro,” Luckey warned Wright.

But Wright got away, jumped back in the car and tried to leave. From the passenger side, Johnson grabbed the gear shift to prevent Wright from driving off.

As Luckey tried to wrest Wright away from the ignition and steering wheel, he heard Potter warn Wright that she would “tase” him and then yell “Taser! Taser!” before firing her gun.

“At this point he has to be stopped. He can’t just drive away,” said Engh, one of Potter’s attorneys. Potter saw Johnson on the other side of the car, Engh said, and thought, “if this guy drives away, he’s dead.”

That’s when Potter shot Wright in the chest.

The aftermath

Prosecutors also played videos showing Potter after she realized she’d shot him with her weapon.

“S***! I just shot him! I grabbed the wrong f****** gun. I shot him. Oh my God!” she said, collapsing onto the curb and saying “Oh my God” over and over. As the videos played in the courtroom, Potter wiped away tears, and rejected a box of tissues offered by her attorney.

“I’m going to go to prison,” she said at one point. “I killed a boy.”

“No you’re not,” Luckey replied on the video.

Johnson tells Potter in the video that Wright was trying to take off with him in the car.

Wright’s car traveled about a block before crashing into an oncoming car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bryant connected with Wright’s passenger through Facetime, and, screaming, she panned the video to show Wright’s lifeless body.

“He looked dead,” Bryant testified.

She eventually found out where the incident happened, and went to the scene, where she was stopped by cops from getting close to a body that was lying in the street, covered with a sheet.

She said she kept biting the inside of her cheeks, hoping to wake herself up from a nightmare. She said she still has scars inside her cheeks from it.

“I knew, but I didn’t wanna know,” Bryant said, crying.

But she could see her son’s shoes.

“I didn’t wanna believe that was my son lying there on the ground but I could tell it was him because it was his tennis shoes,” Bryant said, breaking down.

She stayed on the scene for hours, not wanting to leave until her son’s body was taken away. She was not allowed to approach him.

“I wanted to go comfort my baby,” she said, sobbing. “I wanted to hold him. I wanted to protect him because that’s what mothers do. You make sure that they’re safe.”

Eldridge said Potter “didn’t do anything to help” Wright after the shooting. The videos showed Wright distraught, on the ground.

“She intervened and she interfered,” Eldridge said. “It was her job to show Officer Luckey how it’s done. And what did she show him? She showed him how to kill someone.”

Almost 10 minutes later, a “small army” of officers — unaware of exactly what had happened — approached Wright’s crashed car with guns drawn and dragged Wright’s “dead body out of the car at gunpoint,” Eldridge said.

Luckey testified that both he and Johnson were in vulnerable positions — halfway in the car — and could have been hurt or killed if Wright took off. He said he would’ve used his Taser in that moment, too, if he could have, because Wright wasn’t in control of the vehicle.

Engh told jurors the case is not about an air freshener, but a bench warrant and a guy with a warrant for his arrest.

Engh said Officer Colleen Fricke will testify that Potter’s “grief and regret was inconsolable” after the shooting, and video shows her huddled in a corner at the Brooklyn Center police station.

“She realizes what has happened, much to her everlasting and unending regret,” he said. “She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being. But she had to do what you had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer.”

The arguments

Eldridge said Potter went against training in multiple ways by firing at an unarmed driver, firing into a vehicle or even using a Taser on a fleeing suspect.

And she pointed out that Potter had firearm and Taser training annually, including about a month before the incident.

She said Potter carried her Glock on her right side, because she’s right-handed, and the Taser on her left.

Eldridge said nobody will contend Potter intended to shoot and kill Wright; she isn’t charged with intentional murder. She said it’s about the reckless handling of a firearm and disregard of known risks.

She said officers are trained not to use firearms during pursuits or Tasers to control a fleeing suspect and to aim Tasers away from the chest. She also highlighted the differences in color and weight of a gun and Taser and their holsters. Tasers have a display screen and flashlight that lights up and green lights that appear on the target.

Engh said former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Timothy Gannon will testify that it was consistent with Potter’s training for her to fire a Taser or gun at Wright to protect Johnson. And he said experts will testify about the use of Tasers and “action errors” during chaotic times.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

GOP lawmaker 'likes' tweet saying 'retweet if you're pureblood'

The assistant majority leader for the Minnesota Senate recently “liked" a tweet by a British right-wing radio host that said, “Retweet if you're pureblood."

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, liked a post by Paul Joseph Watson, a far-right conspiracy theorist and radio host who was permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for violating hate speech policies. Watson gained prominence after working for Alex Jones and his website, InfoWars.

It's not clear whether Chamberlain liked the post because he's into pure bloodlines, or because he's an anti-vaxxer: Some anti-vaxxers have begun referring to themselves as “purebloods" because they refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It's a reference to the Harry Potter series, in which wizards and witches from magical families are “purebloods," whereas witches and wizards born to one magical parent and one non-magical parent are called “mudbloods."

Chamberlain has previously publicly displayed a penchant for white supremacy, following a number of neo-Nazis and white supremacists on Twitter and last year tweeting a compliment at an author who thinks white men are the rightful rulers of the world.

Earlier this year, Chamberlain was accused by some Democrats of using a hand gesture — a sort of upside-down OK sign — during a Senate floor debate that has come to be used as an expression of white supremacy, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization.

Chamberlain did not respond to requests for comment.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

Second Minneapolis officer disciplined for conduct during George Floyd unrest

A second Minneapolis police officer has been disciplined for misconduct in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. This one for failing to report his use of force — hitting two people with rubber bullets — three days after Floyd died.

The officer, Oscar Macias, was issued a written reprimand, the lowest level of discipline.

The case underscores how slow and inconsistent discipline is in the Minneapolis Police Department, even as the mayor and police chief promise swift, transformational change.

So far, the only other officer to be disciplined for their behavior in the days after Floyd's killing is Colleen Ryan, a female officer who spoke anonymously to a journalist about what she described as a toxic culture in the department.

Meanwhile, the city currently faces over a dozen lawsuits alleging police brutality and misconduct during the protests and riots of 2020, including one by a woman who says Macias shot her in the face with a rubber bullet just two days after the incident that led to him receiving a letter of reprimand.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo's Oct. 9 disciplinary decision is heavily redacted, but indicates three allegations were lodged against Macias, and one sustained. Under state law, records of complaints against cops are only public if they result in discipline.

Officers are required by MPD policy to document their use of force, including after firing rubber bullets, and while several officers documented firing rubber bullets during what Arradondo dubbed an “event," Macias did not.

Macias said he recalled writing reports each day at the end of his shifts, but wasn't able to find this report, which he attributed to “computer issues," according to Arradondo's disciplinary report.

MPD policy says officers should warn people before using rubber bullets, which shouldn't be aimed at the head, neck, throat or chest “unless deadly force is justified" because they could cause “permanent physical or mental incapacity or possible death."

After MPD violated its own policies while using such less-lethal weapons on protesters after the 2015 police killing of Jamar Clark and did not document their use, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended MPD strengthen its use-of-force policy and better train officers on it.

But it was an issue again after Floyd's killing, as police struggled to gain control of the city as protests, riots, looting and arson spread across the metro area. In the aftermath, the city's Office of Police Conduct Review was swamped with police complaints, going from an average of 288 complaints per year since 2013 to 435 in 2020. But police misconduct complaints rarely result in discipline in Minneapolis.

Last year the city was hit with an avalanche of legal claims that could ultimately cost the city more than $111 million, the bulk of which can be traced back to 13 officer misconduct claims of $2 million or more each in the 15 days after Floyd's killing.

Arradondo, however, wrote in his decision that context is important in the Macias case.

“I recognize that the civil unrest events taking place during this time placed extraordinary demands on officers who worked long hours over the course of many days under difficult and dangerous circumstances," he wrote.

And, he added, Macias “has a history of being recognized for exemplary work and a lack of prior discipline."

That echoes Arradondo's recent reaction to the release of bodycam video showing his officers beating a man after he fired back at an unmarked van carrying MPD officers after they hit him with a rubber bullet without warning.

After Jaleel Stallings was acquitted, the chief released a statement saying “context is important," given the officers had just been through four days of rioting and the burning of the Third Precinct.

Arradondo wrote that he doesn't think Macias was trying to obscure his conduct, since he had his body-worn camera on during the incident and described his actions and reasoning “without apparent hesitation" during the investigation.

“This supports transparency and accountability which are critical for building and maintaining trust with the communities we serve," Arradondo wrote.

But two days later, on May 30, Macias allegedly hit a Minneapolis woman in the eye with a rubber bullet and his body camera was not on, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the woman against the city, Arradondo and Macias.

Samantha Wright was protesting near East Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue when she was hit several times with rubber bullets, including in her left eye, without warning.

According to her lawsuit, she got stitches on her eyebrow, her left eye's orbital socket was shattered, she had bleeding in her eyeball and had a metal plate inserted in her face. Her pupil is now dilated permanently.

Her attorney, Timothy Phillips, said Macias's bodycam video wasn't on at the time he fired, but other video footage captured the incident.

Macias' LinkedIn page says he's worked for MPD since 2005, and city records show he had 13 prior complaints lodged against him, all closed with no discipline — which can mean coaching, verbal correction or that no misconduct was found.

The ACLU has alleged in a lawsuit that MPD intentionally “coaches" cops for serious violations instead of disciplining them, which allows the records to be kept private. The city is fighting the release of coaching records.

Macias was also one of six Minneapolis police officers along with Derek Chauvin cleared of wrongdoing in the 2006 shooting death of Wayne Reyes. They responded to a report of a stabbing outside a pharmacy, a car chase ensued, and Reyes allegedly got out of his vehicle with a shotgun and was shot 23 times, according to media reports.

Wright's lawsuit alleges MPD has a “code of silence" that makes it highly unlikely officers will be disciplined for using excessive force on protesters. In another lawsuit from 2012, a judge found Macias violated a man's Fourth Amendment rights by making an unlawful seizure and used excessive force, and the city settled the lawsuit, but Macias wasn't disciplined.

The MPD spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

With cops down and shootings up, Minneapolis residents frustrated by police inaction

When two men started firing guns outside his north Minneapolis house one afternoon, Mike Rhodes dropped to the floor and called the cops.

The shooters were gone by the time the police arrived, but Rhodes saw them back in his yard hours later. But when Rhodes called 911 to alert them, he said the cops never returned.

Over the next couple of days, Rhodes sought answers from the police department and heard the same thing again and again: Call the mayor and ask for more police funding.

Rhodes' story illustrates how short-staffed the police department is — down about 300 officers after a wave of retirements and disability leave following the murder of George Floyd — and the kind of pressure police can put on a community when they're feeling aggrieved, unappreciated or just peeved.

A Minneapolis police officer recently told a local Indigenous leader MPD has taken a “hands-off" approach to crime control, including out-in-the-open drug dealing. After the Floyd protests, many residents began reporting slow responses or no response to their calls for help, leading City Council members to openly question whether the police were deliberately pulling back.

Some council members felt their wards were targeted because they supported defunding or restructuring the police department. Council President Lisa Bender said last year police were telling residents some version of, “We're not coming." A lawsuit was filed accusing police of slow responses in the Phillips neighborhood.

Rhodes was working from home at about 3 p.m. on May 12 when he noticed a shadow pass by his window. That wasn't unusual; he doesn't have a fence, so people often walk through his north Minneapolis yard.

About a minute later, he heard gunshots. That's not unusual either, but this time, they were closer than he's ever heard them.

He popped his head up, looked out the window and saw two young men — one in a black sweatshirt and one in a red sweatshirt — fleeing from his backyard to the front and holding pistols.

He dropped to the floor and yelled at his 15-year-old son upstairs to do the same.

“I didn't know what else was gonna be happening," Rhodes said.

He didn't leave his house until he saw police in his backyard. Nobody was hit in the alleyway shooting behind Rhodes' house.

After gathering some bullet casings, the police told Rhodes where he could upload his security camera footage, which shows the two young men walking through his yard to the alley, followed by two other young men.

About 7 o'clock that evening, Rhodes noticed the two young men who had followed the shooters walk through his yard and cross the street to hang out in front of a house. He called police to report that two witnesses were back. Nobody came.

Later, the two men he had seen brandishing pistols earlier joined them in front of the house, so he called 911 again. Nobody came.

He called 15 minutes later and was told by the dispatcher that there were not enough police to respond.

At 7:46 p.m., his security camera showed a young man in a black sweatshirt enter his yard. He walked back to where the shots had been fired and kicked around dirt as if looking for shell casings. He was followed by the man in the red sweatshirt and the two other young men.

Rhodes called 911 again and was told no one was available and they would respond as soon as they could.

At 7:51 p.m., he noticed all four were back in the front yard on Girard Avenue North in a group of about 10 people.

After hours waiting and multiple 911 calls, nobody came. Finally Rhodes walked across the street and confronted the suspects for “shooting up the neighborhood." They denied involvement.

Rhodes eventually called the Fourth Precinct to complain about the lack of response. The person who answered the phone “whined" about how understaffed police were, Rhodes said.

“He told me that if I wanted the police to be more responsive in my neighborhood then I needed to call the mayor's office and ask for more money to fund them," Rhodes said.

He got the same response the next day from a Fourth Precinct supervisor and Sgt. Jarrod Roering, he said.

“Literally, all three gave me nearly verbatim statements," he said.

Even when someone is injured in a shooting, the police rarely make an arrest, according to a recent Reformer analysis. Rhodes and his neighbors in north Minneapolis have also experienced the worst of the uptick in shootings, with about 30% of all reported violent crimes happening in the Fourth Precinct, according to the Star Tribune.

Professor Thomas Coghlan, a retired New York Police Department detective and professor of clinical psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said police unions sometimes stage “sickouts" or encourage cops to “go dead," meaning they stop writing tickets and making arrests and take their time on calls to “discipline" the police department or community.

Rhodes sent a complaint to the Police Conduct Review Office, with times and names.

“What if these were the people that shot the kid on Morgan Avenue North the other day? What if they had hurt a kid getting off the bus yesterday? And no one bothered to do anything," he wrote in his complaint.

He also emailed Fourth Precinct Inspector Charles Adams, but never got a response. He filed a complaint with Internal Affairs and contacted Mayor Jacob Frey and his City Council member, Phillipe Cunningham.

Cunningham confirmed that since taking office in 2018, he's frequently had constituents tell him when they call the Fourth Precinct to complain about response times or asked responding officers what took so long, their response has been, “Call your council member and say we need more officers" or “Call your council member and say we need more funding." Sometimes they were even referred to Cunningham for things like drug houses or gun violence, he said.

“Police officers were showing up to calls and telling constituents that I cut the amount of officers and that's why it took them so long," Cunningham said.

Three months after filing his complaint, Rhodes received an email saying it was reviewed by joint supervisors in the Office of Police Conduct Review and the office decided not to proceed with the complaint after an “appropriate investigation" was done.

“Although we cannot provide you with further information, the results of the investigation will remain on file with the OPCR for several years and may be referenced if future complaints are received," the email said.

The Minneapolis Police Department spokesman declined to comment, saying only, “A record of this incident does exist. You may make a data request through the Minneapolis Police Records Unit."

“It is unacceptable that people are just shooting up the neighborhood with impunity, and it is also completely unacceptable that the police completely bungled an opportunity to do something about it and then lied about it," Rhodes wrote to the precinct inspector. The inspector did not reply.

Rhodes said that the shots fired in his yard occurred minutes before children were getting off a school bus nearby and other young children were passing through his yard.

Just weeks earlier, a child was hospitalized after being shot in the head a few blocks from where Rhodes lives.

“I did not like calling the police because if they had shown up and shot somebody… I would not have forgiven myself but… what if these guns had been involved in something else?" said Rhodes, who is white. “What if these kids had been involved in other shootings? We can't have this stuff."

Rhodes said he's only lived in north Minneapolis for a year, but he's lived in Minneapolis for more than two decades and is accustomed to occasionally hearing gunshots.

“I'm not trying to be some alarmist white dude," he said. “I've lived in the city for a long time. I try to acknowledge who I am and where I am."

Rhodes said he got an email from the mayor's office saying they would look into it. And Cunningham, Rhodes said, was very sympathetic, saying he's heard these stories “all too often." Cunningham did not respond to a request for comment.

“I was like they have their talking points worked out," Rhodes said. “Three police in a row telling me that tells me that they coordinated that they're just not gonna show up and they're gonna teach us a lesson."

This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to add Cunningham's comment.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

Bodycam shows Minneapolis officers 'hunting' civilians during George Floyd protests

Another batch of body camera videos released Tuesday show how Minneapolis police officers became increasingly militaristic in their attempt to clamp down on protesters five days after George Floyd was killed.

They mocked some demonstrators and sought out others who were breaking curfew and fired rubber bullets indiscriminately at them. They made racially tinged remarks, mocked the working press and celebrated direct hits with their rubber bullets. As citizens hurled insults at the officers — saying this is exactly the sort of behavior they were protesting — MPD officers continued to fire on people as they fled.

This article was originally published at Minnesota Reformer.

“We're unarmed!" a woman yelled at the officers in one video. “What are y'all tryin' to do?"

“Go home!" an officer yelled back.

When a citizen yelled about the police being civil servants, an officer replied “F*** you!"

A woman hollered at the police: “What the f*** are we gonna do to you? We're out here peacefully protesting; this is f***ing America! We can say what we want!"

That prompted a barrage of shots from officers.

As people chanted “No justice, no peace" and “I'm unarmed," the officers fired less-lethal rubber bullets along Lake Street in the hours leading up to their arrival at Lake Street and 14th Avenue. That's where Jaleel Stallings — after being hit with a rubber bullet — fired back with a real gun because, he said, he didn't know they were cops and thought he'd been hit with a real bullet. The Army veteran would later testify during his trial that he thought they were white supremacists and purposely missed them to try to scare them off.

Earlier, the SWAT team had been joking and laughing as they punctured vehicle tires and fired 40mm rubber bullet launchers at people violating curfew — marveling at their weaponry's effectiveness.

But everything changed when they came upon Stallings and his friends.

All night, their rubber bullets had prompted citizens to flee or cry out in pain, but Stallings — armed with a pistol for which he had a permit — quickly fired three shots back at the SWAT team's unmarked white van, prompting the officers to pile out and yell “shots fired." Once Stallings heard them, he dropped his weapon and went to the ground. Despite his defenseless position, two officers beat him for about 30 seconds and then arrested him.

It was all caught on bodycam and surveillance video.

More than a year after the protests, no officers have been disciplined — except for an officer who violated MPD policy by speaking to a reporter anonymously — and multiple class action lawsuits against the city are pending, including one brought by journalists. An outside review of their response is also being done by a Chicago firm.

After Stallings was acquitted of all eight charges in July — testifying that he acted in self defense — his lawyer, Eric Rice, fought to be allowed to release the bodycam videos. Rice said this is the last of the bodycam videos he will be releasing.

The videos show Sgt. Andrew Bittell — the leader of the SWAT team that fired at Stallings — puncturing the tires of vehicles earlier that night, telling his unit they need to puncture two tires because people can easily change one flat tire.

At one point, after the officers fired on people across a bridge, a person yelled back that someone was hit in the face, but they continued firing. The SWAT team later talked about a group of people approaching, and Bittell said, “Let 'em come." They discussed ambushing them, and then fired multiple 40mm rounds at the civilians.

Later as the team was near Blaisdell Avenue and Lake Street, where a group of protesters were chanting, an officer told Bittell that when the protesters saw police coming in an alley, they ran away. The SWAT team advanced, firing on them, prompting many to flee. The four people who didn't were arrested.

One officer told Bittell he disagreed with expending so many resources to enforce the curfew.

“I so disagree with f***in' doing the curfew s***," he said. “I mean to spend all this resources on f***ing four arrests — I mean Jesus f***in Christ."

An officer told Bittell the people were “pusses" because “You get within 30 feet of them and they run."

“You got to hit 'em with the 40s," the sergeant responded.

At one point, the officers were firing from so far away that Bittell didn't realize he nearly fired at cops before another officer stopped him.

Later, the officers laughed in the back of the van as one talked about “anarchists" they saw earlier. He imitated the cartoon character Elmer Fudd, joking about hunting down the “anarchists."

After the unit went to Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, an officer suggested to Bittell that they should go find civilians out past curfew. Bittell agreed, saying they would be the “head of the snake now."

Later, as their white van made its way down Lake Street, when the unit saw people at the Stop-N-Shop gas station at 17th Avenue, Bittell told the driver to speed up and said, “Let 'em have it, boys."

The officers shot multiple rounds at the people at the gas station, not knowing it was the gas station owner, neighbors and relatives guarding the station from more looting, as well as bystanders, including a Vice News reporter who had his hands up and was yelling, “Press!"

A SWAT team member pushed the reporter to the ground, and as he lay there with his press card up, another officer pepper-sprayed him in the face.

The bodycam of the officer who was driving the SWAT team's unmarked van showed officers complaining about the media. Lt. Johnny Mercil walked up to the van driver, Michael Osbeck,Jr., and said, “F*** these media."

“They think they can do whatever they want," Osbeck said.

Then Mercil implied Black people were responsible for looting and fires, saying, “I got no problem with that; I'd love to scatter 'em but it's time to f***in' put people in jail and just prove the mayor wrong about this white supremacist (inaudible). Although this group probably is predominantly white, because there's not looting and fires."

An officer agreed, saying the white people had told him they were from Minneapolis.

Mercil was in charge of MPD's use-of-force training and months later would testify during Chauvin's murder trial that officers are trained to use the least amount of force needed to meet their objective.

After Stallings was hit with a rubber bullet, fired back, was beaten, arrested and taken to a hospital, an officer secured the scene while it was processed by investigators.

Bodycam video shows MPD Commander Bruce Folkens talking to an officer, and when the officer mentioned that it was a “busy night," Folkens replied, “It's nice to hear that we've moved to — tonight it was just nice to hear 'We're gonna go find some more people.' Instead of chasing people around… you guys are out hunting people now. It's just a nice change of tempo."

“Yep, agreed," the officer said.

“F*** these people," Folkens said.

MPD spokesman Garrett Parten declined to comment on the officers' actions. “Due to the ongoing internal investigation, MPD is unable to comment at this time," he said.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.

Bodycam video: Minneapolis police beat Jaleel Stallings after he fired on officers in self defense

Contains graphic video.

The Reformer has obtained four body camera videos from an incident at 14th Avenue and Lake Street in which a St. Paul man shot at a Minneapolis SWAT team after they fired “less lethal" rubber bullets at him from an unmarked van while he stood in a parking lot.

This article was originally published at Minnesota Reformer

The incident, which took place five days after George Floyd's murder rocked the city, was the subject of a Wednesday Reformer story.

St. Paul truck driver Jaleel K. Stallings, 29, fired three shots at the Minneapolis police officers after they fired their rubber bullets at him and others without warning from a darkened cargo van that was crawling along Lake Street that night.

Stallings was recently acquitted of eight charges stemming from the shooting after testifying during his trial that he didn't know they were cops and thought they might be the white supremacists Gov. Tim Walz had warned citizens about.

The bodycam videos released by the city attorney's office to Stallings' attorney Wednesday shows only the shooting and about nine minutes of the aftermath, before the SWAT team was told to shut off their cameras. More of the two hours' worth of videos obtained by Stallings' attorney may be released after a hearing later this month.

In the video, the van is driving on Lake Street as Sgt. Andrew Bittell tells the SWAT team there's a group in the parking lot to the north, and they begin firing at Stallings, who immediately returns fire.

When the officers yell “Shots fired! Shots fired!" and jump out of the van, Stallings lies down and drops his weapon. Stallings has said that's when he realized they were cops.

Bittell had earlier given his unit orders to “Drive down Lake Street. You see a group, call it out. OK great! F*** 'em up, gas 'em, f*** 'em up." His bodycam video shows that in the roughly 20 seconds it took the officers to approach Stallings, he had dropped his gun on the ground and was face down on the pavement, with his hands to his side.

“You f***ing piece of sh**!" Officer Justin Stetson yells, and begins kicking and punching Stallings in the head and neck.

Stallings repeatedly tries to surrender, saying “Listen, listen, sir, I'm trying to" as they beat him, with Bittell kneeing and punching Stallings in the stomach, chest and back. For about 30 seconds, Bittell and Stetson punch and kick Stallings in the head, neck, stomach, chest and back.

Midway through, Stetson tells Stallings to put his arms behind his back, and Stallings repeatedly says “I'm trying to" but is unable because an officer appears to be sitting on his arm while punching him.

After handcuffing him, Bittell sits Stallings up and kicks him in the ribs as Stetson continues hitting him in the head.

Bittell tells Stetson to stop hitting Stallings, but he continues, even after Bittell says “That's it; stop it," until Bittell finally grabs his hand and says, “It's OK."

Bittell radios in the incident as other officers repeatedly tase another person who was with Stallings, causing the man to scream in pain.

When the officers roll Stallings over, he looks dazed, bloodied and unresponsive as Bittell orders him moved to “recovery" position.

After Stallings is arrested, the officers gathered for a debriefing.

“Did anybody shoot?" Sgt. Bittell asks his unit. Nobody says they had. Officer do not mention that they'd shot Stallings with rubber bullets before he fired back.

“Who are our shooters?" a responding officer asks Bittell.

“Nobody. He shot at us. Then he gave up," replies Bittell.

Bittell repeatedly says Stallings shot at the van, saying Stallings “shot right into the van as (Unit 1281) engaged with 40s."

The other officers agree, saying they didn't “shoot" at Stallings. During a December court hearing, the officers said they meant that they didn't shoot at him with live ammunition from a lethal weapon.

About nine minutes after the shooting, the unit was ordered to turn off its body cameras.

In response to the Reformer story Wednesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement indicating the incident was under investigation, saying, “I'm aware of the recent decision by the honorable Judge Koch who as a part of his decision noted context is important and that the officers had just been through four days of rioting, looting, arson and the burning of the 3rd Precinct. Peaceful protest sometimes quickly escalated to violence. We respect the judicial process as well as the internal investigatory process which is currently active."

DR21 022973 CRITICAL INCIDENT www.youtube.com

DR21 022973 Shooting At Police www.youtube.com

DR21 022973 Shooting At Police 2 www.youtube.com

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: info@minnesotareformer.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.