One of two Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark has been accused in a federal lawsuit of excessive force during an arrest four years ago in Richfield.
Dustin Schwarze, then serving as a Richfield police officer, is alleged to have deployed a Taser on the passenger of a vehicle pulled over by officers early on the morning of Dec. 11, 2011.
He also is accused of threatening to beat the alleged victim, Nataniel Hanson, and a second passenger if they exited the vehicle.
According to U.S. District Court documents, action on the lawsuit began in Hennepin County on or about Nov. 5 — 10 days before Clark was shot to death in north Minneapolis. Also named as defendants are officers Nate Kinsey and Aric Gallatin and the city of Richfield.
The case was moved from Hennepin County District Court to U.S. District Court last Tuesday, court records show.
Schwarze joined the Minneapolis force in September 2014 after serving almost six years with the Richfield Police Department. In 2009, a federal lawsuit was dismissed alleging he forced a man to become a police informant through false arrests and threats.
Hanson’s complaint states that he was riding in the rear of the vehicle that was stopped by police at 2:27 a.m. on Dec. 11, 2011. Schwarze put the driver through one or more field sobriety tests, and also warned the two passengers that he would “beat the [expletive]” out of them if they got out of the vehicle.
He pointed a Taser at Hanson as he spoke, the suit alleges.
A short time later, a police sergeant approached the back seat with Schwarze, and the sergeant ordered Hanson to exit the vehicle. Thinking that the seemingly contradictory order might give Schwarze an excuse to beat him or deploy the Taser, Hanson remained inside the vehicle, and then was struck in the face by Kinsey with a closed fist, the suit alleges.
Hanson also claims that Kinsey punched him about nine more times while Hanson was prone on the ground with his hands above his head.
Schwarze deployed the Taser three times, the suit states.
In addition to the excessive force claim, the suit alleges Hanson was subject to false arrest, and it seeks damages of more than $50,000.
According to Hennepin County District Court records, Hanson, now 33, was convicted of a petty misdemeanor of failing to wear a seat belt in connection with a Dec. 11, 2011, incident, and was required to pay fees and a fine totaling $103.
An attorney representing the officers and the city of Richfield could not be reached for comment Sunday night.