MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Three former Minneapolis police officers involved in the Jaleel Stallings case are receiving thousands of pension dollars each month, Public Employees Retirement Association executive director Doug Anderson confirmed to FOX 9 on Thursday.
Bodycam videos and excerpts, which identified the officers involved, were released October 5 by Eric Rice, Jaleel Stalling’s lawyer. Stallings was cleared of charges in August after being arrested in May of 2020 for firing shots at Minneapolis police officers.
Former Lt. Johnny Mercil is receiving $7,026 per month of duty disability retirement benefit since his last day on May 5. In an officer's bodycam video, Mercil mocked journalists covering the protests and implied a group of protesters were likely "predominantly white" because "there’s not looting and fires," according to the excerpts written by Stallings’ attorney.
Former Cmdr. Bruce Folkens will continue to receive $9,891.26 per month of service retirement benefit since his last day on July 31. According to Rice, Folkens said in another officer’s bodycam video that it was a "nice change of tempo" to be "hunting" protesters that night "instead of chasing people around."
Former MPD officer Christopher Cushenbery is receiving $5,168.18 per month for his duty disability benefit since his last day with MPD on April 2. Cushenbery was the first officer to fire a gunshot at Stallings on the night of May 30, Rice wrote.
PERA said it is unable to clarify the specific reasons why an officer qualifies for disability retirement, but Anderson said the reasons can vary from physical injury to mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Earlier this year, the city was expected to sign off on an estimated $35 million in settlements for officers leaving the force for mental health reasons.
The amount of benefit an officer receives at the time of their retirement is calculated as three percent times the total years of service times the officer’s average salary from the last five years, Anderson said. That amount is reduced if an officer retires early, with the exception of those on duty disability benefits.
As of Wednesday, three of the eight officers involved in the Stallings case are no longer with MPD. It’s unclear if the officers were fired or left voluntarily. The statuses of the officers gained attention after recent reports from the Minnesota Reformer.
Jaleel Stallings trial
Jaleel Stallings was acquitted in August after being arrested in May of 2020 for firing shots at Minneapolis police officers.
Bodycam video showed Stallings arrest, as officers in a van fired less-lethal ammunition towards a group gathered in a parking lot along Lake Street on the night of May 30, as a curfew was in place.
At trial, Stallings said he was acting in self-defense, unaware that the people in the van were police officers and what they were shooting wasn't bullets. Stallings was also concerned about reports of white supremacists roaming the streets of the city during the riots.
Once he realized the people he fired at were police officers, Stallings said he quickly dropped his gun and laid on the ground.
No officers were hurt during the incident, but Stallings suffering injuries as police used force to take him into custody, as captured by the body camera video.