Christopher Reiter faces assault charges after man left with traumatic brain injury.
By Brandon Stahl email@example.com
Video and records obtained by Star Tribune appear to contradict official reports filed by two Minneapolis police officers when they justified kicking a man in the face in May 2016.
One of the officers, Christopher Reiter, was charged on Wednesday with felony third degree assault in the incident, which left Mohamed Osman with a traumatic brain injury that he said still prevents him from working and caring for his children.
Reiter, who is no longer on the force, and Josh Domek were in a group of about four officers who responded to a domestic assault report at 2929 Chicago Avenue south during the early morning hours of May 30.
The video shows Domek and two other officers running out of the building with their guns drawn and toward a silver SUV where Osman was sitting. Osman got out of the car with his hands up and knelt on the ground. Domek then kicked Osman in his midsection. Immediately after, Reiter, dressed in a darker uniform, kicked Osman in the head.
According to the criminal charge, Reiter's kick caused Osman to collapse to the ground "unconscious and bleeding."
A squad car arrives and blocks the camera's view, but when that car pulls away, the video shows Osman at times sitting up unassisted.
In reports they filed after the incident, Domek wrote that as he approached Osman, he ordered him to get on the ground. Domek then wrote that he moved toward Osman "in an effort to push him to the ground to get him in handcuff position. While doing so, I felt resistance from the male, causing me to believe that he was going to attempt to fight as he had just been involved in a violent assault."
In his report, Reiter said when the other officers ordered Osman out of the vehicle, "I could see [Osman] pushing off the ground.
"I made a split second decision and kicked [Osman] in the face one time with the top flat part of my boot."
The video does not appear to show Osman either resisting or pushing off the ground.
In charging Reiter last week with a felony, County Attorney Mike Freeman said, "in this case, a kick to the face is a use of deadly force, and simply not justified," Freeman said.
Domek was not charged.
The MPD declined to comment for this story. In a statement released last week, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said "we remain committed to creating a culture of accountability within the MPD. These actions are not consistent with our core values and we take that very seriously."
In a statement issued Monday, Reiter's attorney, Robert Fowler, called the release of the video "shameful," and said he must now move for a change of venue to ensure a fair trial.
"I'm not sure where the media obtained this video, but the proper place for people to judge this video, in the context of other evidence, is in a courtroom during trial." he said.
Domek, who is still employed by the MPD, could not be reached for comment.
Minneapolis police have investigated eight complaints of excessive force filed against Reiter since 2013. Two of those remain open, which includes the incident of him kicking Osman. Another case involved Reiter kicking a gas station attendant in the chest in September 2014, an incident also caught on video. That case resulted in a federal lawsuit filed against him and the City of Minneapolis that is still open.
Domek has had five complaints filed against him since 2013, including the report of him kicking Osman.
Osman pleaded guilty to third degree assault in January as part of a plea deal in the domestic violence case where he repeatedly punched a woman and choked her unconscious. He will be sentenced on March 23.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626