A Mower County Sheriff’s Deputy faces misconduct and fifth degree assault charges for actions that took place during the January arrest of a 17-year-old boy in Austin, Minn.
Deputy Ryan Chrz allegedly punched the teenager in the head while the boy was handcuffed and in the back of the deputy’s squad car, according to charges filed in Mower County District Court. He also allegedly pepper-sprayed the teen.
In an interview with investigators, Chrz said he punched the teenager because the deputy was kicked in the groin during the arrest and wanted to prevent the boy from kicking him again.
According to court records:
The deputy and local police were called to the McDonald’s restaurant in Austin on Jan. 16 over a report of an “unruly” male. Deputy Chrz arrived within minutes of the 11:15 a.m. call and stopped the juvenile as he exited the restaurant.
Chrz told investigators he patted the teenager down before trying to put handcuffs on him, but the juvenile was bothered by someone nearby filming the arrest, and pulled away. Chrz and two Austin police officers then wrestled the teenager to the ground, handcuffed him and put him into the deputy’s squad car.
The teenager told investigators he got into an argument with his girlfriend, heard sirens and exited the restaurant. He said he was immediately put into handcuffs and was pepper-sprayed before he was put into the squad car, where he was pepper-sprayed two more times. He said “I’m done” three times as he was shoved into the squad. He denies kicking or assaulting the officers.
Chrz told investigators that after he was kicked, he responded with a closed-fist punch to the teenager’s cheek once he was in the squad, according to the court record. Chrz said the punch was appropriate, and that he was trained to “go to a level higher than the suspect” when using force.
At least two videos of the arrest were taken by squad car dashcams.
The case will be heard in Mower County, but Rice County Attorney John Fossum filed the charges due to conflict of interest rules.
Chrz’s attorney was not available for comment Friday.