A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit alleging that Minneapolis police used excessive force on protesters in the days after George Floyd's death can move forward in court.
U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson denied motions by the city of Minneapolis and Lt. Bob Kroll, former Minneapolis police union president, to dismiss the suit. The suit, filed in July by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-MN) and several law firms, has five plaintiffs: Twin Cities attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, Marques Armstrong, Terry Hempfling, Rachel Clark and Max Fraden.
The court found that the case "plausibly alleges that an unofficial custom regarding the use of unconstitutional force against peaceful protesters existed at the time of the George Floyd protests, and that the custom was either tacitly authorized by municipal policymakers or policymakers were deliberately indifferent to it," according to the ruling.
However, Nelson allowed Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matthew Langer and state Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington to be dropped from the case. The allegations against the patrol did not "plausibly allege constitutional violations," she wrote.
The court also dismissed allegations against Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo in his individual capacity, but allowed the allegations to stand in his official capacity. That means Arradondo cannot be held personally responsible, but his employer can be, according to ACLU-MN staff attorney Isabella Nascimento.
"We're feeling really good about the decision," she said.
All five plaintiffs were out protesting following Floyd's death and suffered injuries including bruising from projectiles and eye and vocal issues from tear gas, the lawsuit says. It alleges that the Minneapolis Police Department and the State Patrol used unnecessary and excessive force to suppress First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble.
The suit also says that law enforcement officers fired without giving warning or ordering protesters to leave and that in a few cases when officers did, protesters weren't given enough time to comply.
In an ACLU news release Friday, Nascimento wrote, "Police are supposed to protect and serve, not fire tear gas and hard foam bullets at people while they are peacefully protesting. It is particularly outrageous that people out protesting police violence and the murder of George Floyd by MPD were met by more police violence at the hands of MPD."
Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759