A Minneapolis man who was the subject of a botched drug raid has filed a federal lawsuit against several police officers, alleging they needlessly beat him during a traffic stop and one of them later "fabricated and/or misrepresented evidence to a Hennepin County judge" to obtain a warrant for his home.
The lawsuit alleges Minneapolis officers Tony Partyka, Neal Walsh and other unidentified officers violated Moore's civil rights by "unnecessarily and recklessly using excessive force to pull Moore from his vehicle, throw him to the ground" and beat him on the side of the road during a routine traffic stop, leaving Moore with a broken nose and other injuries.
A few months later, Partyka violated Moore's civil rights again "as retribution for Moore's complaints to the Minneapolis police department" about the use of force when he led a SWAT raid into Moore's north Minneapolis home with a no-knock warrant, according to the suit.
Hennepin County Judge Paul Scoggin ultimately threw out the drugs and other evidence recovered in the search, after Moore's public defenders exposed what Scoggin called a "reckless disregard for the truth" on the part of Partyka.
"Unfortunately for Moore, the warrant was only quashed after he had unjustly been forced to spend over seven months in jail when he was arrested after the illegal search of his residence," the lawsuit states.
The Minneapolis City Attorney is reviewing the lawsuit, but declined to comment on the allegations, said city spokesman Casper Hill.
The Star Tribune first reported on Moore's saga in May 2021, after the charges against him were dropped. Chief among the questions that unraveled the case: Did Partyka embellish — or fabricate — key information from a trusted informant?
"We think that the confidential informant in this case may not have existed," said Tanya Bishop, one of Moore's public defenders, in an interview at the time.
In December 2019, police dashboard and body-worn camera footage shows Partyka and his partner pull Moore over after Partyka said he "failed to signal 100 feet prior to turning." Quickly after approaching the vehicle, Partyka suddenly panicked. "Put your hands up!" he shouted, and the officers ripped Moore from his car.
"Immediately after Moore was thrown to the ground, Partyka delivered three or four elbow strikes to Moore's left shoulder area and then kneeled on Moore's torso," the lawsuit states.
"[Officer] Walsh's knee strikes to Moore's head rendered Moore temporarily unconscious," the civil complaint continues. "While Moore was unconscious and thus completely immobilized, [an unidentified officer] pulled Moore by the hair and dragged him along the ground."
In his report, Partyka said he thought Moore was reaching for a weapon. The officers searched Moore's car and found a glass pipe on the passenger — but no weapon.
Moore was booked in jail and charged with obstruction of justice. When he got out on bail and visited the hospital, he'd sustained a broken nose, facial abrasions, a head injury and a black eye, medical records show.
Moore filed two complaints against Partyka afterward, but no officer ever followed up on the allegations, according to the civil complaint. "On information and belief, both complaint forms were intentionally destroyed by the police before they were submitted for investigation," the suit says.
The charges were dropped.
A week later, Partyka led the drug raid into Moore's home.
The raid netted 2 pounds of meth, leading to felony drug charges that carried up to 13 years in prison, according to charging documents.
In the police report, Partyka replaced the default header with a nickname: "Moore Money Moore Problems," a reference to a Notorious B.I.G. song about drug dealing. Instead of the fresh mugshot, Partyka attached the photo from his previous arrest, which showed Moore's face mangled from the beating Partyka is accused of helping deliver.
Over the next seven months, public defenders Bishop and Alicia Granse began to unravel inconsistencies in the case, including raising questions about whether the confidential informant existed. In a July 2020 hearing, Partyka couldn't explain why a bag in evidence he'd told the judge contained a "powdery substance" was now empty.
"This is a material misrepresentation and, at a minimum, a reckless disregard for truth," wrote Scoggin in his order dismissing evidence collected in the drug raid.
In the lawsuit, Moore's attorneys questioned why Partyka — a patrol cop — was leading the investigation into Moore in the first place. "He was not and never had been an investigator or detective, and he was not assigned to any unit specifically tasked with investigating drug crimes," the complaint states.
The lawsuit alleges Partyka obtained the warrant by "falsely telling the judge that he had found baggies containing drugs in a trash bin outside Moore's residence and that a so-called confidential and reliable source had observed Moore selling drugs at the property."
"Probably not coincidentally, the height and weight description allegedly provided by the 'informant' exactly matched the information on Moore's drivers' license, which Partyka had access to as a result of his arrest of Moore three months before," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis this week by firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, seeks damages, though no dollar amount was specified, for multiple civil rights violations.
Partyka is the subject of one pending internal affairs investigation and three open complaints through the city's Office of Police Conduct Review, according to police records and a spokesman. Six complaints against him filed with the Office of Police Conduct Review have been closed with no discipline since 2018. In all complaints, the allegations are deemed private under state law at this time, meaning it's unclear if any relate to the Moore case.