WORTHINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - Recently released dash camera video of a Worthington, Minn. traffic stop calls into question the use of force by a drug task force agent and the amount of time the suspect had to comply with orders.
According to the ACLU, the traffic stop happened last July after an off-duty officer reported Anthony Promvongsa was driving recklessly.
Squad car video shows Promvongsa pull over his vehicle to the curb. Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak then goes up to the vehicle with his gun drawn, telling him to "Get the f--- out of the car m------------." Joswiak pulls Promvongsa out of the vehicle and knee jabs Promvongsa three times, also punching him about five times. Once on the ground, Joswiak and a Worthington police officer handcuff him.
Promvongsa was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon--the weapon being his vehicle--and one count of fleeing an officer in a vehicle. The case is set for trial, but a date still needs to be set.
In the wake of the video's release, ACLU is calling for Joswiak's termination for using excessive force.
At one point in the video another officer, Sgt. Tim Gaul, appears to turn off the dashcam's audio recording, prompting the ACLU to call for an investigation into Gaul's actions as well.
Teresa Nelson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Minnesota Statement:
Agent Joswiak’s use of force against Anthony Promvongsa is disturbing and completely unnecessary. We are calling for an investigation of Agent Joswiak’s behavior and for him to be held accountable for his brutal attack on Anthony Promvongsa, up to and including termination and prosecution. Thus far Agent Joswiak has received no punishment for this abhorrent treatment of Anthony. This sends a message that the department condones the officer’s behavior, which it should not.
Full Statement from the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department, and the Nobles County Attorney’s Office:
The July 28, 2016 video released by ACLU is one piece of evidence in a pending criminal case. Release and discussion of evidence in pending criminal cases is limited by the data practices law and criminal court procedural rules. The video, viewed in a vacuum, shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges.
The charges in this case include two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (a motor vehicle), one count of fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, possession of a small amount of marijuana, and driving after revocation. Further details available to the public are included in the criminal complaint in this case, which is Nobles County Court File 53-CR-16-683.
Because the case is now awaiting a jury trial date, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department, and the Nobles County Attorney’s office feel it is inappropriate to comment further.
Our agencies ask that the media and the public remain patient as the criminal case progresses accordingly.
Anthony Promvongsa Statement:
I had no idea what was going on when I was approached and attacked by this officer. I did not even have the opportunity to take off my seatbelt before I was literally blindsided with this unnecessary attack. I immediately pulled over for the Worthington squad car and before I knew what was happening I was beat and ripped from my vehicle. I know I am not the first person to have this type of traumatic experience with law enforcement in Worthington. This type of violence with community members has to stop. This encounter was demoralizing and has left me scared of future interactions with the police.