Bloomington police officers on duty at the Mall of America thought that Michael Jointer, an African American male, was someone else. They thought that he was another African American male named Leon Combs, who was on trespass at the mall. So they stopped Jointer and asked for his ID.
Jointer immediately produced his drivers license, that quickly and conclusively established that he was no the (black) man the officers were seeking. Yet, they nonetheless continued to detain and harass him. First, they ran warrant checks on him. When those came back clean, the officers searched Jointer’s shopping bags. After they failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing, they asked for his receipts. Jointer produced his receipts, which matched the merchandise in his bags. That still wasn’t good enough for them. They took Jointer’s bags and ordered him to follow them back into the store he just exited so they could verify his purchases with the store clerk. The clerk told the officers that Jointer’s purchases were legitimate. Finally – over 6 minutes after they first stopped Jointer – the officers released him on his way.
Jointer filed suit for public accommodations discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The MHRA prohibits raciall discriminatory conduct by police officers, and racial discrimination in places of public accommodation, like stores, malls, and other places open to the public.
The Bloomington Police Department settled Jointer’s case for $150,000.
Jointer is a brave man, and we were honored to represent him.