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St. Paul reaches settlement with man who claimed he was kicked and tasered by police

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: April 21, 2015 - 6:28 PM

The city of St. Paul has reached a settlement with a man who says he was tasered and kicked by police while he was working on a car in a garage several years ago.

The St. Paul City Council will likely approve a $12,500 settlement Wednesday with Frankie Edward Adams and his attorney. Adams sued the city of St. Paul and Sgt. Steve Anderson as well as Officers Soren Mahowald, John Pyka, Abraham Cyr and Craig Rhode.

According to the amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court:

Adams was working on a car on the night of Jan. 6, 2010, when police searched the property. When Adams saw the first officer enter the garage and point a firearm at him, he turned around and kneeled down and placed his hands behind his head.

After other officers rushed in, Adams says he was tasered in the back and kicked to the floor by Cyr. Adams alleged that Anderson continued to kick him in the head. Rhode allegedly reached down and grabbed Adams by the mouth and jaw and tried to drag him backwards and Cyr tasered Adams again. Anderson continued to kick Adams and swore at him.

Adams tried to crawl under the car he was working on so he could protect his head and neck, but was dragged out, handcuffed and walked into the apartment. Once inside, Adams was stripped and searched in front of several children. According to the complaint, one of the officers called for paramedics, but when medics arrived they were told that Adams was “going to jail, not to the hospital.”

After Adams was booked, he blacked out walking to the bathroom and fell to the ground. When he woke and went to the restroom and saw the extent of his injuries and pushed a button for help. A nurse at the jail said that Adams should be hospitalized, and he was taken to Regions Hospital.

Adams’ eye sockets were so bruised that they were swollen shut for several weeks after the incident. He also suffered black out episodes and cognitive deficiency for nearly a year.

Adams was never charged with a crime as a result of the search warrant, the complaint said.

While Judith Hanson, an assistant city attorney, said in the city’s response to the complaint that the city denied Adams was kicked as described in the complaint, she said that he was tasered twice. Hanson also said that Adams’ injuries were caused by his own actions or were preexisting and unrelated to the incident. Hanson said that any force officers used against Adams was reasonable.

Decades ago, Adams’ testimony helped convict gang leader Robert G. (Buster) Jefferson for the 1994 firebombing deaths of five St. Paul children. Adams was indicted on five drug charges and faced potential prison, but he agreed to testify that he overheard Buster Jefferson and his half-brother, Robert J. (Duddy) Jefferson, admit to their roles in the firebombing. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop all but one of the drug charges against Adams.

In January, Robert J. Jefferson, who was 16 at the time of the crime, saw his sentence reduced to 50 years after initially being sent away for life with no chance of parole.

St. Paul gets EPA grant to plan West Side Flats cleanup

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: April 13, 2015 - 6:03 PM

St. Paul is getting a $200,000 federal brownfields grant to plan the future cleanup of the West Side Flats, a 120-acre riverfront area opposite downtown that the city hopes to turn into a mixed-use urban village.

The Environmental Protection Agency grant, announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and Mayor Chris Coleman, will pay for development of a plan to address pollution in the area, much of it now vacant after decades of industrial use.

According to a master plan adopted by the city last year, the city hopes that the area will develop into a mix of residential, commercial, industrial, office, institutional, entertainment and recreational uses.

"Developing housing and job opportunities along the riverfront for the people of St. Paul has long been part of our vision for the city. This grant allows us to take the next steps toward making that vision come to life in a way that benefits all residents," Coleman said in a prepared statement.

The area is bounded by the Mississippi River on the north, Hwy. 52 on the east, Plato Boulevard on the south and Wabasha Street on the west. It's called the West Side flats because it occupies the level floodplain on the river's west bank.

In 2003, U.S. Bank opened a $60.5 million operations center off Robert Street in the flats area, a development that required millions in public subsidy to clean the polluted site.

St. Paul police endorse Frazer, Glass, Noecker for City Council

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: April 9, 2015 - 3:15 PM

The St. Paul Police Federation, which represents the city's 650 sworn officers and communications staffers, has endorsed three newcomers for election to City Council seats this fall: Steve Frazer in Ward 7, David Glass in Ward 5 and Rebecca Noecker in Ward 2.

The federation also endorsed two incumbent council members, Dan Bostrom in Ward 6 and Chris Tolbert in Ward 3. No endorsement was made in the First Ward race, where several candidates are challenging Council Member Dai Thao, and in the Fourth Ward race, where City Council President Russ Stark so far faces nominal opposition.

The endorsements are significant. No candidates won DFL Party backing in Wards 5 and 2, both expected to be hotly contested battles. The endorsement will elevate Frazer, a police commander, who lost the DFL endorsement in late balloting to Jane Prince in the Seventh Ward race.

A screening committee interviewed the candidates last month, and made recommendations for the membership to vote on earlier this week. A federation press release said that the candidates "won overwhelmingly, with no opposing votes."

"We believe the leadership of these endorsed candidates will make for a safer St. Paul," federation president Dave Titus said.

Coleman promises sweet music with his speech

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: March 31, 2015 - 10:31 AM

Musicians will accompany Mayor Chris Coleman when he delivers this year's State of the City address, scheduled for April 16 at the Ordway Center's new concert hall.

The program will begin at 6 p.m., starting with Coleman's address and continuing with a concert by local musical guests yet to be named. He will be introduced by City Council President Russ Stark. Refreshments will be served before the speech.

It will be Coleman's 10th State of the City address, which he uses to summarize the previous year's progress and to lay out goals for the following year. Coleman has been mayor since 2006.

Ordway Center is across from Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. The event is free and open to the public.

St. Paul named winner of Knight Cities Challenge

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:36 AM

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Tuesday announced that St. Paul will receive a $175,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation -- money the city will use for a full-time policy fellow who will work on the mayor's 8 to 80 Vitality initiative. St. Paul was one of 32 applicants across the country to receive the award. There were more than 7,000 applicants.

“I am thrilled that the Knight Foundation recognizes the importance of the 8 to 80 Vitality initiative,” Coleman said. “Their support will ensure we can engage residents, community partners and stakeholders throughout St., Paul in strengthening our city and ensuring that our investments in streets and public spaces promote economic vitality for people of all ages.”

Based on the work of urban designer Gil Penalosa, the 8 to 80 Vitality initiative aims to increase activity and vitality on streets and in public spaces by making them accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

The grant will fund the policy fellow position for 18 months. The position will work out of the city's Planning and Economic Development Department.

"The 8 to 80 Vitality initiative has the potential to have widespread impact across St. Paul—creating new opportunities, connecting residents from diverse backgrounds, and giving people the tools to help shape the future of our city," said Polly Talen, Knight Foundation program director in St. Paul.

The Knight Cities Challenge seeks to fund ideas to make the 26 cities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work, according to the foundation. The challenge asks: What's your best idea to make cities more successful?

Three other St. Paul projects were chosen as Knight Cities Challenge recipients, including 4 Play by Greater MSP, as well as Rolling Out the Welcome Hat and MN Nice Breakers - both by artist Jun-Li Wang.

For more information about the 8 to 80 Vitality initiative, click here.

To learn more about the Knight Cities Challenge, visit www.knightcities.org.

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