Minneapolis to pay Jaleel Stallings $1.5 million

Category: Police Brutality

More Info: Civil Rights Lawsuits

OPINION: It should be noted that the “less-than-lethal” “40mm marking rounds” Minneapolis police were firing at civilians are the exact same caliber, fire a 1.5″ solid-mass projectile, and contain the exact same propellant charge as the 40mm fragmentation grenades used by the United States military in combat. The ONLY difference is that “marking rounds” don’t explode on impact. The Minneapolis Police Department’s use of the words “less-than-lethal” and “marking rounds” is part of their damage control efforts that are intended to distract and deflect attention away from the fact that Minneapolis SWAT was driving around town in an unmarked van firing non-exploding grenade rounds at civilians.

This is a problem that the city of Minneapolis has still not addressed.

The city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $1.5 million plus costs and attorneys’ fees to Jaleel Stallings, an Army veteran who sued the city after being acquitted on the grounds of self-defense after he was charged with shooting at Minneapolis police who first fired marking rounds at him.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are investigating the incident, which took place five days after the police murder of George Floyd.

As the Minneapolis Police Department struggled to regain control of the city, a SWAT team drove around Minneapolis in an unmarked van at night, firing 40-mm marking rounds at civilians out after curfew. They then beat Stallings and his companion after Stallings fired back with a pistol, unaware they were cops. He said he purposefully missed them.

Nearly a year after a jury acquitted the former St. Paul man of eight charges, including attempted murder, Stallings said while the settlement is “great,” he’s left feeling some dissatisfaction.

“I didn’t go into the civil suit with the intention of getting a check — I wanted justice and accountability, just like I had to face,” Stallings said. “I would like to see all parties involved be held to some level of accountability as well.”

The city will not admit guilt or take responsibility as part of the agreement with Stallings, which still has to be approved by the Minneapolis City Council.

The Stallings settlement is just the latest in a string of expensive settlements with people who say they were the victims of egregious police misconduct. Earlier this month, the state Department of Human Rights released a blistering report that found the city and MPD engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination.

Stallings now lives in Texas, where he moved out of fear of retaliation. After his arrest and charges, he became depressed as he faced the uncertainty of a trial and the possibility of decades in prison. He had no criminal record prior to his arrest.

After he was acquitted, he said that got far less attention than his arrest, with national headlines painting him as a would-be cop killer. He went through phases where he feared retaliation by white supremacists or police.

“It’s a battle,” Stallings said. “I don’t feel the same as I did before all this took place.”

Asked how he’s doing now, Stallings said, “I’m OK.”

He’d been stopped by police and racially profiled before, but never experienced anything like that night, when police beat him for 30 seconds even though he had dropped flat on the ground when he realized they were cops.

Stallings said he’d like to bring people together — from police to gun rights groups — to talk about how to improve policing culture. He thinks the funds to settle his lawsuit should come from police pockets, rather than taxpayers.

“The work’s not done,” Stallings said.

Until the Reformer wrote about his case in September, his July acquittal went unreported, Stallings noted.

“The minute things went down, I was held to the highest form of accountability,” he said. “But I was the only one held to any form of accountability. And to me, that’s not justice.”

Emails that Stallings’ attorney, Eric Rice, obtained through a public records request show the day the initial Reformer story was published on Sept. 1, then-Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman referred the matter to the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review.

Later that day, then-Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement saying he couldn’t comment because the incident was under investigation.

Rice said MPD’s disciplinary system failed: Before Stallings’ trial, District Judge William Koch found the SWAT team violated Stallings’ constitutional rights and Stallings was acquitted with evidence that included officers’ body camera video footage.

Rice said he’s concerned that misconduct observed by multiple officers on the scene and during the investigation failed to capture the attention of MPD officials.

It’s troubling that MPD had to rely on reporters to expose the incident, he said, even though officers are supposed to report misconduct, and MPD was conducting an after-action review of its protest response.

“This experience has shown how much work we have to do to live up to what we call the criminal justice system,” Rice said. “And the takeaway from me and Jaleel’s case is this was not an isolated incident. This was not a failing of (the) system. This could literally happen to anybody, and if nothing is fixed, it will happen again.”

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See the original article here: https://minnesotareformer.com/2022/05/17/minneapolis-to-pay-1-5-million-to-settle-jaleel-stallings-lawsuit/

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