A man alleges in a newly filed lawsuit that a group of Minneapolis police officers beat him up in his home and shot his dog in a case of mistaken identity that he said left him afraid to ever answer the door again.
Tomas Garcia-Orihuela, who was 39 at the time of the incident, said that officers, acting on a tip from a drug informant, raided his house on Aug. 6, 2015, looking for a cache of cocaine they suspected was there. Garcia-Orihuela said the officers threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and began kicking and hitting him, while repeatedly yelling, “Where are the drugs?” and “Tell me where you have the drugs.” A sweep of the house did not turn up any drugs.
City officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
The suit filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District court names the city of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Police Department, Officer Ricardo Muro and several unidentified officers as defendants. No damage figure was specified.
The lawsuit says that Muro, who obtained the search warrant that led to the early-morning raid of Garcia-Orihuela’s home in the Hawthorne neighborhood, wrote in an affidavit that he had received information from a reliable informant that a drug dealer nicknamed Pisa was stashing guns and cocaine at his house.
Garcia-Orihuela said he was lying down in the living room playing with his dog, when Muro and a team of SWAT officers forced open the front door of the home.
The lawsuit further contends that police shot and killed Garcia-Orihuela’s dog as soon as they entered the house, even though “it did not attempt to attack the officers.”
Garcia-Orihuela, who denied ever dealing drugs or going by the name “Pisa,” said in the suit that the ordeal left him with a traumatic brain injury. He added that he “feels intense fear when anyone comes to the door” and still has nightmares about the incident.
“He was even more afraid because the officers spoke to him only in English and he could not understand what was going on,” the suit read.
A call Wednesday to Garcia-Orihuela’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
Muro, a decorated officer who currently is working in the department’s weapons unit, has previously been named in two excessive-force lawsuits, both of which were dismissed.
While police didn’t find any drugs, they did recover three guns from various parts of the house, according to court filings. Garcia-Orihuela, whose legal status prohibits him from possessing firearms, was charged and is expected to go to trial next month.