Charges: Off-duty Minneapolis cop used excessive force near Envy, the Loop

Minneapolis police officer Michael Lewis Griffin has been charged with assaulting several people while off-duty at downtown bars, identifying himself as an officer in each altercation. Griffin, 40, is also charged with lying on official police reports, in civil depositions and at trial, U.S. District Attorney Andy Luger announced Wednesday. Griffin has been with the force since 2007.

Envy Nightclub

According to the indictment and court documents, on May 29, 2010, Griffin was with a friend outside of Aqua in downtown Minneapolis when his friend began arguing with someone identified as I.R. Griffin displayed his badge and identified himself as a police officer. I.R. walked to Envy Nightclub about half a block away, but Griffin followed and punched him in the face until he was unconscious.

Griffin then approached two on-duty Minneapolis officers, told them to arrest him and wrote a police report "falsely indicating that I.R. tried to attack Griffin and that Griffin only punched I.R. after attempting to sweep his legs out from under him."

I.R. was charged subsequently with assaulting a police officer, which the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office later dismissed.

The Loop

On Nov. 5, 2011, Griffin, while off-duty, threatened to have four men thrown out of the the Loop in Minneapolis' North Loop.

Court documents say Griffin approached the bouncer, identified himself as a police officer, displayed his badge, directed the bouncer to throw the four men out of the bar, and the bouncer complied. Griffin followed the men out and said he was going to call "his boys." His partner showed up in a squad car to take one of the men into custody. One of the man's friends asked where his friend was being taken, and Griffin grabbed him from behind and threw him to the ground. 

Griffin ordered one of the men to get out of the car and walk to a loading dock area where Griffin kicked him in the chest and knocked him down. One of the other men in the group followed and Griffin punched him in the head from behind, knocked him down and kicked him in the head. 

Griffin is accused of making a false police report, and as a result, one of the men was arrested for obstructing a police officer with force. Those charges were also dismissed. In Griffin's report, he said the 4 men had surrounded him on the dance floor and threatened to "kick his ass." He also falsely reported that a bouncer had warned him not to go outside of the bar because the men were waiting for him.

Civil lawsuits filed

The victims from both incidents filed civil law suits alleging excessive use of force. Griffin lied in civil depositions taken in connection with both of them. He testified at trial in connection with the Loop altercation and again lied under oath.

"Police officers cannot use their shield as a weapon against innocent civilians," Luger said. "This defendant is charged with assaulting at least four people in his capacity as an off-duty officer, filing false paperwork and lying multiple times while under oath. Minneapolis is well served by the many hard-working and honest officers of the Minneapolis Police Department and I am proud of the close working relationship between the Department and my Office to address violent crime in the city. At the same time, we will not stand for those who abuse their badge and the public's trust."

He is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on May 21.

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