Federal judges in the last week dismissed two separate cases that accused Minneapolis and St. Paul police of using excessive force, including a suit brought by a man who had been detained and tased at a Vikings game and another arrested after protesting the death of Philando Castile.
Vikings fan Anastacio Lemus Lopez of Midland, Texas, sued the department following an incident at a game on Dec. 1, 2016.
Lopez had at least five drinks before and during the game, and he was causing a disturbance in his section, according to court records. A security guard testified that he was pushing and shoving other fans.
When Lopez refused to go with the security guard, the guard radioed Minneapolis police for help. Two officers, Anthony Rodin and Russell Cragin, arrived to take him to a holding cell.
Lopez said he has no memory of what happened next. Security footage showed the officers tasing and kicking him.
Lopez was charged with felony disarming a police officer but was acquitted by a jury in August 2017.
The officers testified during the civil case that Lopez threatened them, began fighting with them and reached for Cragin’s belt in an attempt to get his gun.
Lopez sued the Minneapolis Police Department, the city of Minneapolis and the Vikings. In dismissing the case, Judge Paul Magnuson said the testimony and video evidence, including bodycam footage, justified the officers’ use of force.
“Lopez has only provided his own version of the events, which he cannot remember, and which the video evidence and the officers’ testimony directly contradicts,” Magnuson wrote in his order.
A Minneapolis police spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.
In the other case, Osha Joseph sued the city of St. Paul and several of its officers following a July 2016 protest on Interstate 94 over the death of Castile, Joseph’s second cousin, who was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop.
When police later sought to find protesters who had hurled construction debris and glass at them, they eventually went to Joseph’s home.
When he saw the police, Joseph got out of a car and began waving his arms and swearing at the officers, officers later said in depositions.
Fearing for the officers’ safety, a sergeant on the scene ordered Joseph into a squad car while they searched his house. Joseph said officers smashed his foot with a squad car door, then kept him in a hot car for more than an hour while he yelled that he couldn’t breathe and was going to vomit.
In dismissing the case, Judge Ann Montgomery noted that officers opened the car door three times for eight minutes and video showed him “leaning his head out the window several times during his detention.”
Joseph was also unable to provide any medical records that his foot had been injured.
“The intrusiveness of his detention was minimized while Joseph was confined in the squad car. He was not handcuffed, the windows were rolled down, he was treated by paramedics, and he was given an ice pack and an inhaler. Thus, the officers used the least intrusive means reasonably available to detain Joseph,” Montgomery wrote.
The St. Paul Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.