A CNN security officer is suing the Minnesota State Patrol, alleging that he was targeted for being Black and unlawfully arrested while working during the civil unrest in Minneapolis late last spring.

Michael J. Cooper, now 65, was kept in the Hennepin County jail for nearly 20 hours on May 30 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 seeks at least $500,000 in damages. He is represented in the lawsuit by the legal team representing George Floyd's family.

"Despite being accompanied by numerous white members of the press at the time, Mr. Cooper was the only one arrested," a statement from Ben Crump's law firm read.

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 suit.

He filed his civil rights suit 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 suit 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 reads, 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 behind his back 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.

Bruce Gordon, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety (DPS), which oversees the patrol, said Tuesday that "while we are not able to comment on pending litigation, we disagree with the allegations and look forward to presenting the facts in court.

Gordon did counter with patrol reports filed by Kelly that included the trooper's version of events.

Kelly contended 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.

Cooper retired from law enforcement in 2005 after "a stellar and decorated" career, much of it with the Illinois State Police, according to the suit. He currently is a partner with Aware Security Consultants out of suburban Chicago.

The suit spells out details of Cooper's actions leading up to his arrest near the Minneapolis Police Department's Fifth Precinct headquarters near W. Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue, and the response by the members of the patrol involved in his arrest:

As darkness set in, Cooper directed a CNN broadcast crew away from nearby tear gas and rubber bullets being fired by law enforcement. A rubber bullet hit one crew member and sent him to the ground in pain. Tear gas soon followed.

Cooper approached law enforcement, showed his media credential while seeking help for him and his crew to leave the immediate area. He repeated that he was a member of the media "but was ignored."

Troopers ordered him to kneel, then lie down and place his arms straight out, with his palms upward. A compliant Cooper was grabbed by Trooper Kelly and cuffed behind his back while knocking his media credential from his hand.

Cooper identified himself as law enforcement and explained that he was armed. Kelly disarmed Cooper and left him handcuffed and prone for several minutes. All the while, the suit read, "the troopers did not arrest any of the white members of the broadcast team, who initially remained nearby."

Captain Doe ignored Cooper's media credential while falsely claiming that he was violating curfew. A handcuffed Cooper waited another 45 minutes before being taken to jail.

Once released and never charged, Cooper sought but "never received so much as an apology or public recognition of this unlawful act," the suit continued.

"How many times will the country need to see this script play out, where a Black man is treated differently by police than other people in the same situation?" read a statement Tuesday from attorney Christopher O'Neal, of Ben Crump Law.

"Mr. Cooper's experience while simply working while Black is, unfortunately, all too common," O'Neal continued. "There must be justice for him and for all Black Americans who have had their basic civil rights violated and their dignity offended while going about their lives."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482