FBI to review video of Mpls arrest, beatingby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — The FBI has agreed to review a video depicting Minneapolis police officers using force to subdue a man during a February traffic stop.
At one point, the squad car camera shows several officers kicking and punching Derryl Jenkins, 42, as he is lying on his stomach in a snowbank.
Officers claimed Jenkins was speeding and that he fought with officers. But those charges were later dropped.
According to police reports, officer Richard Walker pulled Jenkins' car over at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 19. The report says Jenkins was driving 15 mph over the speed limit.
When Walker approached the car, Jenkins was inside with the door locked and the windows up. He was on his cell phone.
The squad car video shows Walker try to open the door and then knock on the window.
Jenkins says he was nervous about the traffic stop as soon as he noticed the squad car behind him. He says he was calling his girlfriend as Walker approached the car.
"He aggressively walks to the car. He's trying to get in. He's pulling on the car door trying to get in. And that kind of freaked me out a little bit," said Jenkins in an interview today. "I've been pulled ... over before. So I just didn't quite understand that. And he's asking me for my ID. But his tone of voice is real aggressive."
The police report and Jenkins' account begin to diverge here. The officer says Jenkins refused to show his ID and became "irate as he attempted to exit his vehicle."
Jenkins said he asked the officer why he wanted him to show his ID and asked to see the officer's supervisor. He said he told the officer he needed to get out of the car in order to reach his driver's license.
Part of the exchange between Jenkins and Walker was caught on the voice mail of Jenkins' girlfriend's phone. The audio is garbled, but Jenkins is heard asking if he can "grab it out of his pocket." But as Jenkins stands up, the officer tells him to get back in the car.
"That's when he grabbed me," said Jenkins. "Starting swinging me around and threw me to the ground. The first thing that went through my head was, this is the night I'm going to get beat up by the police."
Jenkins is 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighs about 240 pounds. Officer Walker struggled to pull Jenkins to the ground. Walker alleges that Jenkins punched him in the face as the two wrestled.
But the video shows Jenkins with his arms outstretched as the officer tries to get Jenkins to lay on his stomach. Walker finally wrestles Jenkins onto his belly, and lays on top of him as reinforcements arrive.
Five more officers rush into the camera view and begin punching Jenkins. One officer joins in with three sharp kicks to Jenkins' midsection. At some point, Jenkins is also tased twice.
"Things are kind of fuzzy and I really didn't know what was going on," Jenkins said today. "Then they moved to another part and rolled me over, and started hitting and kicking me and telling me to stop resisting. But the resisting was -- I was trying to block my face from getting hit."
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan has seen the video, and in a written statement offered support for officer Walker. Dolan says Walker's actions appeared to be appropriate.
But Dolan also expressed concern over the conduct of the responding officers -- particularly those who kicked Jenkins. That caused Dolan to request the FBI investigation.
Dolan declined to comment beyond his statement. But police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia said the video shows how officers often have to deal with people who resist arrest, which he said can create a dangerous situation.
Force "doesn't look good, but sometimes it is necessary, unfortunately. And I think people that aren't used to seeing that, it does raise concerns with them," Garcia said.
Mike Quinn is a retired Minneapolis police officer. During his 23 years on the force, he spent four years as head of the police academy. Many of the officers he trained are still on the force.
Quinn reviewed the video of Jenkins' arrest and immediately saw some red flags.
"You've got a guy who's down on the ground -- passive resistance. He's not fighting back. He's not punching or kicking at anybody," said Quinn. "Clearly there's multiple punches being thrown by the officers, and kicks. From what I can see and just from the video, I would say somebody needs to investigate this because that appears to be completely out of line."
Quinn says the legal standard for use of force by police officers was set by a few key court cases. In particular, the 1989 Supreme Court decision in the case of Graham v. Connor established that an officer's use of force must be a reasonable response to the level of threat the officer perceived.
Quinn is not sure if this instance meets that standard.
"There wasn't a threat of flight. There wasn't a threat, an immediate threat, to any of the officers who responded," he said. "So if you look at it in those terms, you've probably got a case for excessive force."
Quinn adds that more investigation should occur before such a conclusion can be reached.
FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson said investigators will look into the case. It's common for the FBI to examine excessive force complaints against local law enforcement because one of its responsibilities is enforcing federal civil rights laws.
There may be more legal action down the road. Derryl Jenkins' attorney says he and his client are considering a lawsuit, but are waiting to see what happens with the FBI investigation and the Minneapolis police department's internal investigation.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)