A CNN security officer withdrew his lawsuit that alleged the Minnesota State Patrol targeted him for being Black and unlawfully arrested him during the civil unrest in Minneapolis shortly after George Floyd's death.
Michael J. Cooper was kept in the Hennepin County jail for nearly 20 hours on May 30, 2020, on allegations of violating an emergency curfew — which specifically exempted members of the news media — and illegal possession of a gun.
No charges were ever filed, according to the suit, which was seeking at least $500,000 in damages. He has been represented in the lawsuit by the legal team representing George Floyd's family.
"We took the procedural step of dismissing the action without prejudice," Jeff Storms, Cooper's attorney, said Tuesday. "That means Mr. Cooper can refile his civil rights claim at any point within the six-year statute of limitations period."
Storms declined to say why the step was taken, explaining, "I can't discuss further strategy decisions at this time."
A spokesman for the State Patrol has yet to respond to a request for comment about the dismissal.
Cooper, a retired law enforcement officer, was a credentialed member of the media at the time, and while possessing two guns, he also had with him a permit that allows him to carry a firearm anywhere in the United States, according to the lawsuit.
He sued in U.S. District Court alleging that his arrest was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's free speech and unlawful detention amendments. The lawsuit specifically lists as defendants trooper Patrick Kelly and patrol "Captain Jane Doe," whose identity has yet to be verified by Cooper or his attorneys.
"Mr. Cooper was part of the same CNN broadcast team as Omar Jimenez, a Black Latino journalist, who was also unlawfully arrested [one day earlier in Minneapolis] while covering the historic protests surrounding Mr. Floyd's murder," the suit read, adding that Cooper was given this assignment in response to the reporter's arrest a day earlier. "The selective arresting of Black media members was not coincidental. It was intentional and racially motivated."
A CNN producer with Jimenez also was arrested during that separate apprehension. Jimenez was handcuffed by state troopers on live television with others in his crew about 5 a.m. and led away from the scene by two troopers in riot gear after saying he worked for CNN. They all were soon released after Gov. Tim Walz intervened. Both were later released without charges.
Kelly contended in his incident reports that he searched Cooper and found no media credential. Once aware that Cooper was armed, Kelly explained that the arrest was made "being that we had no way to prove that the male was employed by CNN [no credentials], active duty law enforcement or a conceal carry permit holder," the second of two reports from the trooper read.