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St. Paul police to settle unnecessary-force suit

  • February 11, 2013 - 7:33 PM

The St. Paul City Council will vote Wednesday to settle a police brutality lawsuit for $30,000 with a man who alleged that he was repeatedly punched in the face without cause.

Tobari West, 26, sued the city and officers Rondle Townsend and Todd Bjorkman in October 2012 in federal court. West's suit alleges that on April 14, 2011, the officers used unnecessary force when they came to his home with an arrest warrant on allegations he had violated his probation.

According to the suit: West asked if he could get his shoes. Townsend "waved his hand in approval," then grabbed West's wrists as West bent down to put them on. Townsend punched West in the face "repeatedly for no reason." Bjorkman stunned West on his back with a Taser.

West's vision faded in and out during the arrest, and an exam later revealed that he suffered two bone fractures in the face. He continued to experience double vision, migraine headaches and anxiety at the time the suit was filed, the suit said.

West was charged with obstructing the legal process with force, a gross misdemeanor, but was acquitted by a jury at trial.

The city attorney's office said that West's injuries were due to his own misconduct, and denied that Townsend gave West permission to get his shoes. The officers used force when West resisted arrest and attacked both officers, assistant city attorney Lawrence Hayes Jr. wrote in the city's answer to the suit.

The city does not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.

CHAO XIONG

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