Half-million dollar settlement reached in Ramsey Co. Jail beating case

Ramsey County has reached a settlement agreement with a man who was punched, kicked, and nearly suffocated inside the Ramsey County Jail, all while sitting handcuffed in a restraint chair. 

Sources confirm Ramsey County will pay the victim,Terrell Wilson, $525,000. The Ramsey County Board’s Executive Committee still needs to approve the settlement next week.

The incident happened in April 2016, but was not made public until a FOX 9 Investigators story in February. 

During the incident, which was video taped with a hand-held camera, five deputies struggled to get Wilson into a restraint chair.

The officers later admitted they did not know how to use the specialized device.

Corrections Officer, Travis VanDeWiele kneed the man twice in the abdomen, while trying to get him to sit back in the chair.

VanDeWiele applied pressure to the Wilson's jaw causing him to lift out of the chair.

The officer then delivered four punches to the man's stomach.

The deputies also folded Wilson over as he struggled to breath.

"I can't breathe, I can't breathe," Wilson said.

 He was unaware the assault was videotaped, until the Fox 9 Investigators brought it to his attention.

"Like it was so much pain. I've never been through so much pain," he said.


The video brought immediate condemnation from St. Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter.

“If we saw video like that from anywhere else in the world we'd call it torture," Carter said.

It brought county supervisors to tears. "I'm emotional and I'm emotional with my community because this is not okay," said County Commissioner Trista Matas Castillo back in February.

Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who was not sheriff at the time of the incident, promised a slew of reforms and to change the culture in the Ramsey County Jail.

"Equally disturbing is that no one in the video or the two police officers put a hand on him and said we got it from here," said Fletcher. 

Sheriff Fletcher announced a series of policy and training changes after the video become public, including a “duty to intervene” any time a staff member observes excessive use of force. 

Among the other changes being implemented:

Civilian Ombudsman Program: The creation of a Civilian Ombudsman program in the jail, giving the public eyes and ears inside the jail.

Staff Assignment Changes: Only staff with exceptional de-escalation skills will be assigned to the Booking area, a high stress assignment in the jail.

Training:  A new training program for staff emphasizing de-escalation skills and cultural competence.

Complaint Monitoring: Creation of a tracking system for use of force incidents to identify trends and patterns.

Timely Investigations: Internal Affairs complaints will follow a “dual path” with any criminal investigation.

Video Technology: An upgrade of video cameras in the booking unit.