The grandson of Minneapolis’ first African-American female cop has sued the city’s police department, saying his rough treatment during a February traffic stop left him with emotional scars and a broken finger.
Rico McKinnies alleged in his excessive force lawsuit that not only did he suffer “stress, fear, shame, humiliation, and embarrassment” from the Feb. 8 episode, but also lost wages and medical expenses.
McKinnies is the grandson of Deoloris “Dee” Dunn, who joined the department in 1975 as its first black female officer, after answering a classified job ad. She spent 18 years on the force, before retiring with the rank of sergeant.
After Dunn’s death in January — several weeks before the stop involving her grandson occurred — police Chief Medaria Arradondo remembered her a “true pioneer” whose “perseverance, professionalism and leadership paved the way for many women.”
The suit, filed last month and later moved to federal court, lists as co-defendants the city of Minneapolis and the three officers who were at the scene: Rachel Reiersgord, Chad Conner and J. Spies. It seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
A police spokeswoman said Monday that the department’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation.
In its response, filed Monday, attorneys for the city said that McKinnies repeatedly refused to produce his driver’s license and proof of insurance when asked, and that he started resisting as he was being led into the police squad. The city denied most of McKinnies’ allegations, including that the officers used excessive force on him.
On the night in question, McKinnies was pulled over by Reiersgord and Connor for an unspecified traffic violation in the area of N. 34th Avenue and 6th Street, his attorney said; McKinnies denied any wrongdoing and asked to speak with the officers’ supervisor, to no avail. Shortly afterward, Spies arrived and the officers conferred with each other on how to proceed, as McKinnies dialed 911 to request a supervisor come to the scene, the suit said.
The officers later ordered McKinnies out of the car and handcuffed him behind his back, the suit alleged.
Even though McKinnies said that he wasn’t resisting, Spies began twisting his fingers, as the officer shoved him into the back seat of a police squad. In doing so, the officer fractured one of McKinnies’ fingers, causing him to cry out in pain, the lawsuit contends. According to McKinnies, neither of the other two officers intervened when this happened, and only then was a supervising sergeant called to the scene.
McKinnies was released without charges.
“His grandmother taught him that if he feels something suspicious was going on, he should ask for a supervisor, and that’s what he did in this case,” said his attorney, Zorislav Leyderman, referring to Dunn. “How does a person end up with a broken finger after the police officer’s attempts to place them in a squad?” He said body camera footage of the encounter exists.
A pretrial conference is set for Thursday in the courtroom of magistrate Judge Becky Thorson. When reached for comment Monday, police union president Lt. Bob Kroll said that he hadn’t yet seen the suit and thus couldn’t comment.