A former law enforcement officer that worked security for CNN during the protests following George Floyd's murder is suing the Minnesota State Patrol.
Cooper was hired by CNN to protect the network's on-the-ground news crew in Minneapolis, according to the lawsuit filed late last week, following the arrest of a reporter and producer on May 29, 2020 - an incident caught on video.
But the following day, it was Cooper – a Black, former law enforcement officer in his 60s – who found himself in handcuffs, while his media colleagues nearby, many of whom were white, remained undisturbed by troopers.
Cooper was taken into custody for a curfew violation and unlawful possession of a firearm, but the lawsuit argues it was unwarranted. Cooper was a credentialed media member and held a valid HR 218, which allows qualified law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm across state lines, the suit states.
“How many times will the country need to see this script play out, where a Black man is treated differently by police than other people in the same situation?" said attorney Christopher O’Neal of Ben Crump Law, which is representing Cooper. "Mr. Cooper’s experience while simply working while Black is, unfortunately, all too common. There must be justice for him and for all Black Americans who have had their basic civil rights violated and their dignity offended while going about their lives."
Cooper was held in Hennepin County Jail for nearly 20 hours, according to the lawsuit. He spoke to ABC 7 in Chicago about the incident last November, saying a fellow armed security guard who was white was untouched by law enforcement.
Bring Me The News has reached out to the Minnesota State Patrol for a comment.
Cooper is the latest media member to take legal action against law enforcement in Minnesota for incidents that occurred during the unrest following Floyd's killing.
A Tennessee-based journalist blinded in one eye after being shot by a foam bullet filed a lawsuit in June of 2020. And earlier this month, a Los Angeles Times photographer and bureau chief sued the State Patrol, claiming they were cornered and attacked by troopers.
Ben Crump Law is the same company that represented the family of George Floyd following Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police, as well as that of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by an officer in Brooklyn Center in April.