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October 25, 2014

Dashcam video in excessive force suit against Roseville police

A Mexican immigrant is claiming Roseville police used excessive force against him last year during a routine traffic stop, violating his civil rights.

FOX 9 reports attorneys for Victor Yair Hernandez-Rivera, 25, of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit last Thursday. It claims officers assaulted him and used a stun gun against him. The Pioneer Press adds that the officers mocked him for his limited ability to speak English.

The Star Tribune first reported that video footage from the patrol car exists. It shows officers pulling over a Saturn suspected of speeding near Lexington Avenue and Highway 36 on May 26. When the car stops, the driver runs away and an officer gives chase. A minute and a half later, Hernandez starts to get out of the passenger seat with his hands in the air. The Pioneer Press said the video shows him being thrown to the ground by police, who handcuffed him, punched and kicked him and hit him three times with a stun gun even though he did what officers told him to do.

KMSP-TV

Hernandez was holding his cell phone at the time, but the force of the encounter shattered the device.

One of the officers started questioning him, but it became clear he did not understand what she was saying. That prompted the officers to speak Spanish “in a very mocking and derogatory tone,” according to Hernandez’s attorney Paul Edlund, asking in Spanish, “Are you stupid?” and “Don’t know, don’t know?”

He was charged with obstruction of legal process without force and failure to obey a police officer, but the misdemeanor charges were dismissed. The attorneys maintain the dashcam video proves Hernandez did not resist or obstruct the legal process, which is why prosecutors dropped the charges.

“I think a lot of people don’t believe defendants because they are seen as criminals and I think people tend to believe the police,” Edlund added. “Without the video, it’s hard to prove a lot of times they’ve done what they’ve done.”

The officers have 60 days from the date of the lawsuit’s filing to respond.