A man who was beaten by St. Paul police in 2011 is suing the city and six officers, arguing they used excessive force and had no reason to beat him.
Lawyers for Michael Fleming filed the suit in U.S. District Court this week (read it here). They say years later Fleming is still suffering from his injuries and should be compensated.
St. Paul's city attorney filed a response denying that the officers did anything wrong. It says any injuries to Fleming were caused by his own actions and it asks the judge to throw out the lawsuit.
What the lawsuit says happened
The suit says Fleming was visiting an apartment on St. Paul's east side when the six officers arrived with a search warrant.
Fleming was not the subject of the search and his lawyers say he did not resist the officers in any way, verbally or physically.
The lawsuit says one of the officers, Mike Dunaski, hit Fleming in the face with the butt end of his shotgun. When Fleming fell to the floor, Dunaski and other officers began kicking and stomping on his head, it says, with a cop at one point cursing Fleming for spitting blood on the officer's shoe.
Fleming, 31, spent three days in a hospital being treated for "massive facial trauma" as well as a brain injury and respiratory failure. He later returned for surgery and a titanium plate was inserted where the bone around his left eye socket had been shattered, the lawsuit says.
One of his lawyers told MPR News Fleming did not sue earlier because he wanted to see how well he would recover from his injuries. The lawsuit says he has continued to suffer headaches, double vision, and numbness in his face.
The suit says Fleming's constitutional rights were violated and it accuses St. Paul of tolerating a pattern of unreasonable force by its police.
The city's response
In its response, St. Paul denies every allegation in the suit.
It says all of the actions the police took are authorized by federal and state laws and any injuries to Fleming were caused by his resistance to officers who were carrying out their duties.
Dave Titus, the president of St. Paul's police union, told the Pioneer Press: "Mr. Fleming's complaint has many inaccuracies and omissions."
Other excessive force cases
In April St. Paul paid $2 million – its largest-ever settlement – to Frank Baker, a man who had broken ribs and collapsed lungs after being kicked by an officer while a K9 was mauling him.
Officers had mistaken Baker for a criminal suspect and he was not charged with a crime.
According to the Pioneer Press, nine lawsuits have been filed against the St. Paul Police Department this year, with three of them dismissed and the other six leading to settlements.