A Coon Rapids man has sued his city’s police department, alleging excessive force and retaliation after he was stopped and arrested during a midnight bike ride.
In an odd twist, the city obtained a restraining order against the man after he showed up at the arresting officer’s divorce hearing.
Troy Scheffler filed the federal lawsuit against officers Mark McDonough, Joe Price and the city of Coon Rapids this week, arguing that the arrest was unlawful, the force used excessive, and the ensuing restraining order “punishment and retaliation.” He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. Scheffler’s account, as outlined in the lawsuit:
He was riding his bicycle on Woodcrest Drive after midnight on July 10, 2014, when a squad car started following him. Alarmed, Scheffler, who takes medication for a panic disorder, called 911. The dispatcher directed Scheffler to approach the officer and ask him why he was there.
The exchange became heated. According to Scheffler, the officer refused to identify himself and instead demanded Scheffler’s ID. When Scheffler also refused to identify himself, the officer removed him from the bike, handcuffed him and arrested him.
He was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of the legal process and jailed. He said he suffered a concussion, bruises and abrasions as a result of the police encounter.
Scheffler also alleges that McDonough filed an inaccurate police report that said Scheffler was driving a vehicle.
Coon Rapids police reports describe a different version of events. According to McDonough’s police report:
McDonough was among officers responding to an emergency call of a fight. Scheffler, who was visibly intoxicated, approached the officer, who was seated in his car. Scheffler refused to identify himself, refused to leave and was compromising the officer’s ability to investigate the 911 call, the police report says. The officer decided to detain him, according to the report.
Scheffler fought the officer during the arrest, the police account says. Handcuffed and seated in the back of the squad car, Scheffler “continued to be belligerent and said he was planning on suing me and was going to sue the police department and said he had every right to interfere with what we were doing,” the officer wrote.
In the days after the arrest, Scheffler said he saw police squads following him. He filed records requests about his arrest and officer McDonough.
On Aug. 22, he attended a divorce hearing for McDonough. At the city’s request, an Anoka County judge issued a no-contact order against Scheffler in September 2014.
According to the lawsuit, the city and McDonough “used the judicial process … to impose a ‘no-contact order’ against Mr. Scheffler, to achieve an ulterior objective that the law prohibits, specifically punishment and retaliation.” Scheffler argues he had every right to attend a public court hearing and seek public records.
He filed a similar suit against Louisville, Ky., after a police encounter and arrest there.
Coon Rapids Police Cpt. Jon Urquhart said he could not comment.