Dolan expresses concern about officers' actionsby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio,
Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan on Tuesday described an altercation between officers and a suspect during a February traffic stop as "a heck of a battle," and said he had concerns over some of the officers' actions.
Dolan said it will take at least six months for the FBI to determine if his officers used excessive force in a February traffic stop. (View the police report)
The federal agency has agreed to review a video depicting Minneapolis police officers using force to subdue a man during a February traffic stop.
According to police reports, Officer Richard Walker pulled Derryl Jenkins' car over at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 19. The report says Jenkins was driving 15 mph over the speed limit.
At one point, the squad car camera shows several officers kicking and punching Jenkins, 42, as he is lying on his stomach in a snowbank.
Dolan said he saw the video and has concerns over the officers who kicked Jenkins.
"I have a big, big issue with the kicks," Dolan said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition. "I don't know where that came from as far as their training."
In a statement, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he believes Dolan made the right call in turning the case over to the FBI.
"We take incidents like this very seriously. We hold our police officers to high standards of conduct because it is essential that people know they can depend on the police to protect and serve," the statement said.
Officers claimed Jenkins was speeding and that he fought with officers. But those charges were later dropped.
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," Jenkins said in an interview Monday. "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 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.
Dolan described the situation as extremely tough for the arresting officer, but said they documented everything they did in their reports.
"I hear allegations that this is going on all the time," Dolan said. "We make over 500 traffic stops a week and they're all videotaped in the squads and this is not a typical traffic stop."
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.
Dolan said Jenkins was asking for a captain or a lieutenant to come to the scene, but that's not something that officers at a traffic stop are going to grant.
"This was a very unusual incident and that's why we do videotape these things so if something does happen like this, we're not just dealing with verbal versions from two different sides," Dolan said. "So, we'll be able to get to the bottom of it. We'll be able to see if there's something we're doing wrong as far as training and so forth. The officers documented everything they did there. So obviously, they thought they were doing the right thing. So we'll have to deal with that as an agency."
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.
Dolan said the officers involved in the incident are not currently on administrative leave because the incident happened in February and Jenkins was not seriously injured or sent to a hospital for a long period of time.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Elizabeth Baier, based in Rochester, covers news in southeastern Minnesota for MPR News.