Ex-Gopher sues Robbinsdale cop over force during arrest

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 7, 2014 - 12:17 PM

Melvin Newbern says he got a concussion after being knocked to the ground while in handcuffs.

Former Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball star Melvin Newbern is suing a Robbinsdale police officer who knocked him to the ground while he was in handcuffs, resulting in a concussion.

Newbern, now a juvenile detention officer for Hennepin County, is alleging excessive force on the part of officer Brian Sloat and seeking more than $300,000 in damages.

Newbern was driving away from a doctor’s appointment around 10 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2013 when Sloat stopped him for allegedly swerving and possible intoxication, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Several times, the officer ordered Newbern, who is 6 feet 5 and 330 pounds, to get into the squad car, but Newbern told Sloat that it was too difficult for him to do so.

After being handcuffed and placed under arrest, Newbern again told the officer he couldn’t get into the squad car, the suit says. Although Newbern wasn’t resisting arrest, Sloat kneed him in the back of his leg and he fell to the ground, hitting the left side of his head on the road, the suit said.

A minute before the officer used force, a squad car video recorded Newbern saying, “I’ll get on the ground” and “I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”

“When you are handcuffed and you take out somebody’s leg, the risk of injury is high,” said Andrew Noel, Newbern’s attorney. “What else is going to happen?”

Robbinsdale Police Chief Steve Smith said Thursday that his department hasn’t been served with the suit and that he would have no comment on it. Smith did say that Sloat is a veteran officer in good standing.

There are no published reports that indicate that the Robbinsdale police force has previously been sued for excessive force.

As the result of the incident, Newbern was charged with obstructing the legal process but not drunken driving. In October, he pleaded guilty to petty misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He entered an Alford plea in the case, which allows a defendant to maintain innocence.

Newbern, 46, of Robbinsdale, was not available for comment Thursday. He has no criminal history other than a few minor traffic violations. Noel said he decided to sue the officer because, as somebody who works in the corrections field, the incident “just didn’t sit well with him.”

“He takes pride in his job and coaches kids in the community,” the attorney said. “He was very troubled by this breach of trust.”

Kneed, after a warning

In Sloat’s report, he said Newbern refused to get into his squad car because he said he was claustrophobic and that he wouldn’t fit. Sloat advised him he was under arrest and warned him that if he continued to refuse, he would knee him in the common peroneal area of Newbern’s leg.

When Newbern still wouldn’t get in, Sloat said in the report he delivered two knee strikes that gave him momentum and the leverage to place Newbern on the ground and maintain control over him. He then called for backup, and two officers helped him get Newbern into the squad car.

Before the knee strikes, Sloat said Newbern was bracing his body and “I could feel that he was tensing up and at times was attempting to twist or turn to face me and use his large stature to prevent me from placing him in the squad car.”

The Star Tribune obtained a copy of the squad car video. It doesn’t clearly show the moment when Newbern was kicked, but he can be heard screaming after the knee strikes. He also can be seen having difficulty getting into the squad car and can be heard telling Sloat that he can’t do it.

Newbern, who later was diagnosed with a concussion, went to work on the day of the incident. He later complained of blurred vision, a headache and lack of balance and was unable to work for a month. His symptoms have significantly improved but haven’t gone away, Noel said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 Top 4th Inning
Minnesota 2
New York 41 3rd Qtr
Indiana 65
Phoenix 43 3rd Qtr
Orlando 52
Cleveland 41 2nd Qtr 5:20
Toronto 36
Utah 26 2nd Qtr 4:59
Boston 24
Charlotte 44 2nd Qtr 7:35
Brooklyn 21
Denver 7 1st Qtr 8:16
Minnesota 9
Detroit 12 1st Qtr 6:58
New Orleans 6
LA Lakers 11 1st Qtr 7:11
Miami 8
Philadelphia 13 1st Qtr 7:34
Oklahoma City 9
Memphis 11 1st Qtr 7:11
Houston 14
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 1st Prd 2:04
Winnipeg 0
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 15:23
Detroit 0
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 32 2nd Half 14:23
Albany 56
Duquesne 52 2nd Half 12:12
Fordham 40
George Washington 37 2nd Half 14:54
George Mason 36
Tennessee 54 2nd Half 11:14
LSU 44
Notre Dame 46 2nd Half 12:30
Louisville 45
SE Missouri St 46 2nd Half 12:11
Morehead State 47
St Francis-PA 37 2nd Half 14:16
Mount St Marys 31
Hartford 41 2nd Half 11:24
New Hampshire 40
Wagner 42 2nd Half 10:04
Robert Morris 59
Long Island 36 2nd Half 13:09
St Francis-NY 42
La Salle 34 2nd Half 14:08
Saint Josephs 33
Providence 45 2nd Half 14:26
Seton Hall 42
UCF 27 2nd Half 15:19
South Florida 52
Binghamton 30 2nd Half 13:06
Stony Brook 36
UMBC 20 2nd Half 10:17
Vermont 49
Sacred Heart 45 2nd Half 10:16
Bryant 45
Richmond 27 2nd Half
Massachusetts 25
Wake Forest 5 1st Half 14:02
Duke 14
Purdue 5 1st Half 14:20
Michigan State 6
Miami-Florida 10 1st Half 12:44
Pittsburgh 14
St Bonaventure 10 1st Half 14:11
Saint Louis 5
New Mexico St 14 1st Half 13:12
TX-Pan American 10
Houston 12 1st Half 11:27
Tulane 8
Howard 6 1st Half 14:32
NJIT 16
SIU Edwardsville 8:00 PM
Eastern Ill
St Johns 8:00 PM
Marquette
TCU 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cincinnati 8:00 PM
Tulsa
USC 8:00 PM
UCLA
Miss State 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Air Force 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nebraska 9:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:00 PM
San Jose St
San Diego St 10:00 PM
UNLV
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 49 2nd Half 3:15
Georgia Tech 72
Davidson 44 2nd Half 8:57
La Salle 56
Loyola-Maryland 30 2nd Half 11:54
Lafayette 44
Boston U 31 2nd Half 8:50
Colgate 45
Coll of Charleston 44 2nd Half 14:59
James Madison 66
Delaware 43 2nd Half 16:30
Elon 45
Drexel 40 2nd Half 11:03
Northeastern 27
Hofstra 48 2nd Half 13:21
UNC-Wilmington 50
Towson 40 2nd Half 10:34
William & Mary 51
Miami-Ohio 37 2nd Half 13:05
Akron 51
Ball State 56 2nd Half 12:25
Central Michigan 46
Buffalo 33 2nd Half 13:43
Bowling Green 32
Western Mich 34 2nd Half 15:02
Eastern Michigan 40
Ohio U 45 2nd Half 13:06
Kent State 32
Youngstown St 52 2nd Half 11:37
Cleveland State 51
Illinois-Chicago 31 2nd Half 11:50
Wright State 55
Alabama 24 1st Half 0:23
Vanderbilt 26
Detroit 11 1st Half 11:55
Milwaukee 15
Purdue 7:25 PM
Wisconsin
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close