Fourth Amendment

In an alarming video posted to YouTube this week, two St. Paul police officers violently arrested and tazed a black man who was simply waiting in the skyway to pickup his children from New Horizon’s Academy. The CityPages reports that the man is Chris Lollie; his mugshot is posted below.

Officers. M. Johnson and Bruce Schmidt filed a report that indicated Lollie had refused to leave the area; paradoxically, the report made no mention of why Lollie wasn’t allowed in the skyway. The officers inexplicably  charged Lollie with three crimes, all of which were dismissed. Based on the video and the available information, a lawsuit against the officers seems highly likely.

Madia Law, who does not represent Lollie, prosecutes lawsuits against police officers in Minnesota and Wisconsin who violate the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by performing unreasonable searches and seizures, unlawful arrests, or using excessive force.  Additionally, Madia Law holds government officials accountable for racism, sexism, sexual orientation discrimination, and more, by bringing suit for violations of the 14th Amendment.

See also: April 2012: Madia Law Wins Jury Trial in Federal Court for Excessive Force By St. Paul Police

See also: June 2014: Madia Law Jury Trial Verdict: Officer Violated 4th Amendment 

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Since the police shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old black male in Ferguson, Missouri last week, the town of 21,000 people has become a focal point in the country’s discussion of excessive force and police misconduct. Within days of the shooting, lawyers announced that they were looking at civil rights claims related to the shooting death. Then, reports of clashes between police and protestors demanding answers began flooding social media.

Midwest Civil Rights Attorneys

Attempts to cover the story by news outlets have proven difficult. Yesterday, two reporters were arrested for allegedly trespassing in a McDonald’s restaurant. They were subsequently released without being charged after the police chief learned that they were from the media. Police fired tear gas at reporters stationed at a roadside with camera and lighting equipment. New Yorker reporter Jelani Cobb provides a detailed account of her observations.

Imminent civil rights lawsuits are almost certain. Based on the reports, it appears likely that Ferguson Police may be subject to litigation in cases alleging violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, including allegations of excessive force, unreasonable search and seizure,  unlawful arrest, and deprivation of free speech and the freedom of the press.

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On June 24, 2014, after a two-day trial, a federal jury found that officer Robert Thunder violated Madia Law Client Michael Flowers’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Madia Law Attorney Ashwin Madia represented Mr. Flowers at trial, which was presided over by Chief Judge Michael Davis of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

MN Police Misconduct Lawyers

Mr. Flowers is a 51-year-old disabled black male who has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (“AIDS”), a serious and potentially deadly condition that has an extreme effect on daily life activity and enables him to receive “limited mobility” designation on his Minnesota drivers license. A designation of “limited mobility” allows for reduced fare with Metro Transit.  [click to continue…]

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On Monday, Madia Law filed suit in United States District Court on behalf of Plaintiff Tammy Liddle against Bloomington Police Officer Jeff Thibert.  Ms. Liddle’s federal lawsuit (14-CV-431-JNE/JSM) alleges unreasonable search and seizure, unlawful arrest, and excessive force.  Ms. Liddle is also in possession of squad cam video of the subject incident.

Bloomington City Hall Bloomington City Hall

 

Below is a copy of the Complaint, with some names redacted: [click to continue…]

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The Stolen Lives Project determined that during the entire decade of the 1990′s, over 2000 deaths occurred at the hands of police officers.  Seven years ago, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Justice released a similar report that focused only on the years 2003 thru 2005.  That report indicated that over 2000 people died while being arrested by police officers during those three years alone, and that during each of those three years, the rate of such deaths increased by 13%.  There is also myriad evidence to indicate that police officer deaths at the hands of suspects is increasing at an alarming rate; for example, the FBI determined that from 2007 to 2008, the rate of officer deaths at the hands of suspects jumped 25%.

MInneapolis Civil Rights Attorneys

Although evidence indicates that lethal interactions between police and suspects are increasing, and although it is increasingly common for federal prosecutors to criminally target officers, it is still, overall, exceptionally rare for criminal charges to be filed against police.  Significant spikes in civil liability and lawsuits (i.e., New York, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Minneapolis) suggest that a closer look at police officers by prosecutors might be warranted. [click to continue…]

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One and a half years ago, DelShawn Crawford Sr. was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officers in his girlfriend’s home.  On behalf of Crawford’s estate, Madia Law has filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against two Minneapolis police officers, Laura Turner and Chad Meyer.  What follows is a summary of the allegations against the police officers in the Complaint filed on September 19 in United States District Court.

KMSP-TV

On May 12, 2012, Delshawn Crawford was spending a “family night” with his girlfriend Brandy Lewis, her children, her children’s friends, and cousins of Ms. Lewis.  At approximately 1:30 AM, following the family gathering, there were still seven individuals in Ms. Lewis’ home.  Mr. Crawford and Ms. Lewis engaged in a verbal argument; Ms. Lewis continued to clean the home while they were arguing. [click to continue…]

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently agreed to take a case that could potentially lead to the Badger State becoming only the second state to require a warrant before tracking an individual based on their cell phone.  In May, Montana enacted a bill that made them the first.  See H.B. 603, 63rd Leg., Reg. Sess. (Mont. 2013).

Wisconsin Civil Rights Attorneys

In June 2009, Milwaukee police obtained video surveillance of a suspect purchasing a cell phone before fatally shooting a man.  The police acquired the number of the cell phone and obtained a court order to track the phone’s physical location.  This tracking led the police to Bobby Tate, who they found wearing the same clothes of the suspect on the video and also blood-stained shoes containing the same DNA as that of the shooting victim.  Tate alleges that the police obtained evidence against him by violating his Fourth Amendment rights. [click to continue…]

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A civilized society depends on a well-maintained police force dedicated to service and protection.  However, when officers stray from the duties sworn in their oath, the citizens must have some method of redress.  The current approach in Minneapolis ignores the importance of deterring unacceptable officer behavior and instead focuses on mitigating bad press and decreasing financial liabilities.  Unfortunately, neither of these goals is being achieved and that is because the police department needs to refocus its goals and institute a system that encourages deterrence.

A recent article in the Star Tribune adequately summarizes the problems our police department has created for itself. [1]  “Despite nearly $14 million in payouts for alleged police misconduct over the past seven years, the Minneapolis Police Department rarely concluded that the officers involved did anything wrong…  Of 95 payouts from 2006 to 2012… eight resulted in officers being disciplined…”[2]  These facts show that the Minneapolis Police Department is not decreasing financial liability, nor is it avoiding negative media exposure.  What is the cause of such large payouts?  Finding this root will help focus a solution.  Are Minneapolis residents overly litigious?  Are Minneapolis police officers overly confrontational and unreasonable?  Rather, if the root of the problem is not within the players, could it be the system in which the players must participate?  What is that system anyway? [click to continue…]

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St. Paul Police Officer Jesse Zilge is at home this week, pending the results of an expedited internal affairs investigation.  Video uploaded to Youtube on August 28th shows Zilge kicking an unarmed man in what appears to be either the face, throat, or chest.  While the video clearly raises concern with regard to the officer’s conduct, it is particularly disconcerting in light of Madia Law’s recent jury trial victory against St. Paul Police Officer Adam Bailey, as it also raises the serious question of whether there is a pattern and practice of excessive force and police misconduct in the St. Paul Police Department.

Based on the video, it appears the victim will have a viable civil lawsuit against Zilge for excessive force, a claim made possible by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution via Title 42 U.S.C § 1983.   [click to continue…]

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Minnesota police departments, like many across the nation, are rapidly expanding their use of video technology by individual police officers. Gone is the day when officers were limited to using traditional COPS-style dash-cams to record what was happening directly in front of their police cruiser. Individual officers can now wear cameras on their heads, which allow them to record virtually everything they see in the course of their duties. Police departments are also using a plethora of other technology to supplement video evidence. Such video documentation has been critically important in protecting police and providing crucial evidence; such as in this case from Burnsville, Minnesota.

Video screenshot: copblock.org

As video camera technology expands for police, however, so it does for the average citizen. Read More . . .

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Off-Duty Minneapolis Police Officer Punches Man in Head

June 26, 2012

Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Clifford, 47, is the executive member of the SWAT team and a 19-year department veteran who has twice received the Medal of Valor. Last week, Clifford was charged with felony assault after he punched Brian Vander Lee in the head at Tanners Station in Andover. Clifford’s actions resulted in Vander Lee requiring life […]

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April 2012: Madia Law wins jury trial in federal court for excessive force against St. Paul Police Department

April 16, 2012

On September 26, 2009, Deshun Carter was barbequing in front of his house with his mother, father, and wife.  Two officers arrived and told him to turn down the music coming from his vehicle.  Carter immediately complied and told the officers that he was sorry for the music and wasting their time.  He identified himself […]

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