A jury on Wednesday acquitted a Texas man charged with felony disarming a peace officer after video showed two Minneapolis police officers tasering and kicking the man.
Anastacio Lemus Lopez, 35, traveled from Texas to Minneapolis to watch the Dallas Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 1 in a nationally televised game.
Lopez got drunk and was ejected from the stadium after getting into a fight, according to charges.
As officers Russell Cragin and Anthony Rodin took Lopez through a corridor in the stadium, they said he began to fight with them, grabbed onto one of their duty belts and attempted to grab a Taser, the charges alleged. Lopez was charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Security video shown to the jury shows that as the officers walked Lopez through the corridor, they took him to the ground, then tasered, kicked and punched him. The jury deliberated for about a day before acquitting Lopez.
The officers' body cameras were not turned on until after the incident.
In April, Lopez filed a federal civil suit against the officers and three others with the Police Department, as well the city of Minneapolis, the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
In the suit, Lopez is seeking $75,000 in damages because he was "violently forced to the ground, struck in the ribs with a knee numerous times, punched in the face with a closed fist multiple times, repeatedly tased."
Lopez, who co-owns a trucking business with his family, told the Star Tribune on Thursday that he was "lucky to be alive."
"The police and prosecutor made clear during the trial that they could have used deadly force against me," he said.
He remembers being asked to leave the game that night and being tasered by the officers, he said, and then waking up in a holding cell, surprised that he was being charged with trying to disarm an officer.
"I really hope there's some kind of change, because this shouldn't be happening to anybody," he said.
The jury's decision in the criminal case could affect the lawsuit, said Lopez's attorney, Michael Nadimi. One of the city's defenses in the lawsuit is that Lopez was at fault because he was criminally charged.
The Police Department referred questions on the case to City Attorney Susan Segal, who said that the city would defend against the civil case and that it's independent of the criminal charges.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626