Minneapolis police pulled over Cecil Wayman for a broken headlight on a black Cadillac DeVille while he was driving downtown late one night in August.

A resulting search of his vehicle turned up a gun that Wayman, 49, wasn't legally allowed to have. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and spent 90 days in jail — until Hennepin County prosecutors recently dropped the case and Wayman reunited with his American bulldog, Lord Unicron, named from the "Transformers" movies.

His public defender, Lindsey Van Beek, argued that not only were Wayman's civil rights violated in the stop and search, but officers also violated terms of a court enforceable agreement, or consent decree, enacted in July between the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) and the city of Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Among terms of the 144-page agreement: Officers cannot stop drivers for minor equipment violations like broken lights or mirrors.

"To Cecil's credit, he actually brought this up when he was being pulled over," Van Beek said in a recent interview. "He reminded them that they weren't supposed to stop him for a headlight."

But MPD is denying it violated the consent decree because the agreement hasn't gone into effect yet. And despite police reform measures made two years ago ending certain pretextual stops for instances like expired tabs or an item dangling from a rear-view mirror, MPD says broken headlights or taillights are still grounds to stop.

"Under current Minneapolis Police Policy, a traffic stop based on a broken headlight is not prohibited. The assertion that there was a violation of the MDHR Settlement Agreement is incorrect," MPD spokesman Garrett Parten said in a written statement.

"MPD is given more than a year to complete this process of updating all of the relevant policies, training on those policies, and holding employees accountable to those policies. Nevertheless, prosecutors always have discretion on whether to dismiss a case."

Hennepin County Attorney's Office spokesman Nick Kimball said in a statement that Jacqueline Perez, the prosecutor handling the case, had the discretion to dismiss and did so because of terms of the consent decree.

"The decision was made in this case because the stop was based solely on a non-working headlight, which would violate the restrictions MPD agreed to implement as part of the MDHR agreement," Kimball wrote.

Chief Hennepin County Public Defender Mike Berger said in an interview that he's shocked by MPD "standing on a policy that doesn't go far enough and won't."

"Our office recognizes there is a one-year implementation, however these actions have immediate consequences to the citizens of Minneapolis and our clients," Berger said.

"The police department's statement shows a disappointing lack of insight into the measures required to correct historic discrimination created by their policing practices. I can completely understand that training may not be implemented and completed at the time of this stop — three weeks after the order."

The consent decree was entered July 13. Police stopped, searched and arrested Wayman, who is Black, on Aug. 8 for a "driving without an operational headlight," records state.

MDHR last year found a pattern of illegal racial discrimination within MPD. The report states MPD stops, searches, arrests, uses force against and kills people of color at starkly higher rates than white people.

Although Black individuals comprise approximately 19% of the Minneapolis population, 78% of all searches conducted by MPD officers were searches of Black individuals or their vehicles from 2017 to 2020, according to MDHR's two-year investigation.

On June 16, the U.S. Department of Justice released its own findings of how MPD deprived people of their rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The city and federal officials are still negotiating the terms of their consent decree.

The MDHR agreement has a broader definition of pretextual stops that includes only one functioning and visible headlight, brake light or taillight. Such stops will be prohibited once the implementation process is complete, and that hinges on MDHR naming an independent evaluator to oversee enforcement of the agreement.

MDHR declined to comment.

Flanked by Van Beek and Berger in Berger's downtown Minneapolis office, Wayman said that he's grateful to his boss for watching over his dog and holding down his roofing job while he was in jail.

Wayman said he recognizes that police that night were doing their jobs, too.

"[Officers] are humans and they do have a tough job. It's a hard job, but at the same time there are rules. I just think people have to know about what it is that they can and cannot do," Wayman said.

"When you have people of power or any power structure, if they're the only ones that know the rules, they can break them."

The dismissal filing says prosecutors did so "in the interests of justice."

Kimball added in his statement that the consent decree "is designed to end police tactics that ultimately erode public trust and have been proven to be discriminatory."

"As we continue to work through the office's official policies on how to support the important controls that MPD agreed to implement, we trust and support our line prosecutors as they use their discretion and consider many factors to handle cases in a way that advances public safety and respects civil rights," Kimball said.

Wayman has a lengthy and violent criminal history that includes assault, and he's on St. Paul's Level 3 sex offender registry.

Although Wayman wasn't supposed to have the gun, Berger said "individuals in this country have the liberty to move about without law enforcement interference."

"Law enforcement is government action on individuals. And unless it is stopped at points where it is illegal, you are excusing violations of individual liberty. That's it."