Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan is asking the FBI and the city attorney to review an 18-year-old man's claim that an officer used a Taser on him after he had surrendered.
In a statement Tuesday, Dolan called the video, in which an officer appears to hold the Taser to the back of the man's neck for 15 seconds, "very disturbing." The FBI review will look at possible civil rights violations, while the city attorney will weigh possible criminal charges, he added.
Lt. Travis Glampe, commander of the internal affairs unit, will coordinate the reviews, Dolan said.
"Minneapolis police training and policies related to use of force and Tasers are based upon national best practices and standards," the statement said. "We take any violations of those policies very seriously."
The footage, released Monday by a lawyer for Rolando Demetrio Ruiz, is the latest videotaped incident raising questions about the department's use of force.
Because of one incident, Dolan required an internal affairs investigator to see any videotaped incident resulting in injuries to a citizen or officer. With another, Dolan required all city officers to watch squad-car video in which a man face-down in a snowbank is punched and kicked by six officers and to discuss the use of force.
The 75 seconds of footage released Monday by lawyer Albert Goins starts with Ruiz facing a car with his hands on the hood. An officer approaches from behind and places a Taser against the back of Ruiz's neck. Ruiz screams and quickly falls out of the camera's view. As another officer approaches Ruiz, a police car drives up and people walk up to watch what is happening. Goins says that those people, including a man visibly smiling, are plainclothes officers.
A notice of claim has been filed alleging civil rights and other violations in the April 30 incident. Along with the city and Dolan, the notice names Todd Lappegaard, whom Goins identified as the officer with the Taser, as well as other unknown officers.
On Tuesday, Goins welcomed the FBI review and said he and his client will cooperate, but he also had concerns.
The FBI should look at more than the officer's use of the Taser, he said, citing the others in the video. "The FBI needs to look at this entire culture that allows this to happen, if they're going to conduct a proper review," Goins said.
Goins also was concerned about the dual role of the city attorney's office, which will offer advice about Ruiz's claim.
"It puts the city attorney's office, for whom I have the utmost respect, in a very difficult position," he said, adding the city should seek a special prosecutor.
Jeremy Hanson, a spokesman for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said he couldn't comment on the call for the special prosecutor. But he said the mayor has confidence in Dolan, whom the mayor recently nominated to another three-year term, and his response to the recent incidents.
Dolan "shows he holds very high standards when it comes his officers," Hanson said, both in taking them to task when needed and defending them.
In the notice, Ruiz is asking for damages in excess of $75,000 plus attorney fees. Goins had said that he is waiting for the city to respond before possibly pursuing the claims in U.S. District Court.
Ruiz is charged with a felony count of first-degree damage to property in the incident, outside the 2nd Precinct headquarters, on 19th Avenue NE. near Central Avenue.
According to the criminal complaint, Lappegaard saw Ruiz standing on a planter in a corner of the precinct's parking lot. The 18-year-old took a landscaping brick and threw it at a vehicle owned by another officer, the complaint said.
The car had large dents in its hood and its windshield broke, causing $2,135.14 in damage, according to the complaint.
A hearing is scheduled in the case at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill.
Vince Tuss • 612-673-7692