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Documents detail suspensions, firings for Minneapolis officers for misconduct during 2020 unrest

Documents show MPD suspended 8 officers, fired 2 for misconduct during 2020 riots
Documents show MPD suspended 8 officers, fired 2 for misconduct during 2020 riots 00:28

MINNEAPOLIS — Nearly a dozen Minneapolis police officers were suspended, fired or received other reprimands for alleged misconduct during the unrest that followed George Floyd's murder in 2020, newly released documents show.

Police officials have been slow to release disciplinary reports resulting from the department's response to the sometimes violent protests that erupted after Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white former officer who knelt on the Black man's neck for nearly 9 1/2 minutes, on May 25, 2020. A bystander video captured Floyd's fading cries of "I can't breathe." His death forced a reckoning with police brutality and racism.

The department doesn't generally disclose the outcome of disciplinary cases until they've gone through the entire review and appeal process. It went more than a year before acknowledging even a written reprimand to one officer for talking to a reporter for GQ magazine without authorization about the "toxic culture" in the department after Floyd's death.

The unsealed, sometimes heavily redacted reports are posted on a department dashboard on disciplinary decisions from a range of incidents. Some of the most serious sanctions handed down in cases related to the unrest came from an assault by police May 30, 2020, on Jaleel Stallings.

Officials with the officers' union, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.

Many details in the Stallings case came to light in earlier court cases, but the reports detail some of the reasons former Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman gave for firing Officer Justin Stetson and suspending others. In the redacted report on Stetson, Huffman wrote that he used "unreasonable force" that could have resulted in "even more grave" injuries.

Stallings, an Army veteran with a permit to carry a gun, had fired three shots at an unmarked police van after Stetson shot him with a 40 mm "less lethal" round, the report noted. The officers were enforcing a curfew that night. When Stallings realized they were police, he dropped his gun, lay on the ground and did not resist. But Stetson kicked him in the face and in the head, punched him multiple times and slammed his head into the pavement, Huffman noted.

Stallings — who suffered a fracture of his eye socket, plus cuts and bruises — argued in resulting court cases that he thought civilians had attacked him, and that he fired in self-defense. Stetson last year pleaded guilty to assault and was given probation. The city agreed in 2022 to pay Stallings a $1.5 million settlement, after Stallings was acquitted of an attempted murder charge.

Other discipline arising from that incident included a 120-hour suspension for Officer Tyler Klund for kicking Stallings and for punching a man who was with Stallings that night in the head, and failure to activate his body camera. Huffman also handed down 80-hour suspensions for Officers Michael Pfaff and Michael Osbeck for their actions against the other man. Pfaff used his Taser on him nine times in less than a minute, she said.

Officer Kristopher Dauble got a 40-hour suspension for firing 40 mm rounds at pedestrians about a block away from where police confronted Stallings. Huffman said it was fortunate that nobody was injured as a result.

Sgt. Kevin Angerhofer, who oversaw SWAT teams in the area that night, got a 60-hour suspension for failing to conduct a proper force review.

An earlier report, signed by Medaria Arradondo, who was police chief when Floyd was killed, gave details on the attempted firing of Sgt. Ronald Stenerson, who sprayed a chemical agent into the face of Vice News journalist Michael Anthony Adams when he was already lying on his stomach, holding his press credentials for officers to see. Stenerson did not document his actions and did not activate his body camera, the report said. The Star Tribune reported previously that Stenerson contested his firing and stayed on the job before later resigning.

Arradondo said Stenerson's actions were all the more egregious because he was a supervisor, so his conduct "cannot be tolerated or accepted."

The reports also show that current Police Chief Brian O'Hara handed down suspensions last May of 10 to 40 hours against three officers who confronted protesters who blocked the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis on May 31, 2020.

This week, city leaders announced Minneapolis has completed its emergency management goals set in the wake of Floyd's murder. City leaders received an 86-page after-action report that had 27 recommendations on how the mistakes of 2020 would not be repeated.

"I'm proud to say as of today, of the 27 recommendations that were issued, all 27 have been met," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.  

Last summer, the Department of Justice revealed the results of a two-year investigation into MPD, which found the city and its police department have engaged in practices that deprive residents — specifically Black and Native American residents — of their rights.

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