MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Ten days before a Minneapolis police officer was involved in the shooting of Jamar Clark, the officer was sued for excessive force. The lawsuit concerns the use of a Taser in the arrest of a man in 2011, when Officer Dustin Schwarze still worked for the Richfield Police Department.
Schwarze is one of two officers involved in Clark’s shooting, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The other officer is Mark Ringgenberg.
According to the lawsuit against Schwarze, Nataniel Hanson was the passenger in a car pulled over on December 11, 2011. The suit alleges Schwarze told Hanson and another passenger in the vehicle “that if they exited the vehicle, he would ‘beat the s—- out of’ them.” However, Hanson claims another officer told him to leave the car, resulting in confusion.
During the confusion, Hanson alleges another officer, Nate Kinsey, punched him in the face before officers pulled Hanson out from the back of the car. Once out of the car, Hanson’s attorneys wrote that he was “prone on the ground and his hands were above his head” while Kinsey punched him nine more times.
Next, according to the complaint, Schwarze “removed the cartridge from his Taser, held the trigger down, and delivered drive stuns” multiple times to Hanson. The suit says the “Taser may be operated in ‘drive stun’ mode and used as a pain compliance tool.”
Court records show Hanson was convicted of seat belt violations.
The suit alleges both false arrest and excessive force. The lawsuit was filed in Hennepin County on November 5, 2015, and removed to federal court on November 24, 2015. Hanson is suing the city of Richfield, and Dustin Schwarze, Nate Kinsey, and Aric Gallatin — police officers involved in his arrest.
Tim Phillips, an attorney for Hanson, sent a statement to Fox 9 saying: “We are optimistic that a jury will return a verdict in favor of our client. Yet holding police officers accountable when they unnecessarily kill or injure people is often impossible. This is why many people see the police as a force that terrorizes people with apparent impunity.”
This is the second known lawsuit filed against Schwarze. There other suit, filed in 2009, alleged harassment in the recruitment of an informant, and was settled.
Ringgenberg, the other officer involved in Clark’s shooting, was sued for excessive force while he was an officer in San Diego; the lawsuit settled.
Statement from Dan Kurtz, attorney for the city of Richfield:
"During the stop, Mr. Hanson was arrested for kicking an officer in the face and the officers used reasonable force to arrest him. Mr. Hanson was charged with a gross misdemeanor. He eventually reached an agreement with prosecutors that the charges would be dismissed if Mr. Hanson committed no same or similar crimes for one year."