Autistic man who sued police over excessive force is charged with beating a cop

His 2015 case sparked protests around the Twin Cities.

When a St. Paul 17-year-old on the autism spectrum lost consciousness in a fight with police a couple years ago, it led to protests across the Twin Cities, the dismissal of an officer, and an excessive force lawsuit.

Now Marcus Abrams is 19 and he's a defendant, charged with assaulting a police officer.

The criminal complaint filed against him in Minneapolis says he was outside a nightclub last month where a uniformed officer was working security. According to the complaint, Abrams began cursing at the officer and punched him on the chin. Police say when other officers stepped in to help, Abrams continued fighting until a Taser was used to stop him.

He's charged with fourth-degree assault of an officer, which is a felony.

According to the Star Tribune, a police report says Abrams was asked why he fought with the officers and said "because I don't like [expletive] cops."

What happened in 2015?

Abrams' arrest by Metro Transit police on the last night of August in 2015 made his name a rallying cry for demonstrators arguing that officers are too quick to use force, especially against young black men, and lack training about autism and other disabilities.

He had climbed onto the light rail tracks in St. Paul that night and when two transit officers approached him, he began throwing punches and kicking his feet at them, police said.

Abrams passed out after one of the cops put him in a choke hold. His mother, Maria Caldwell, told the Pioneer Press Abrams had two seizures during the altercation, which left him with cuts on his face and head.

Protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups included a shutdown of the light rail trains on the day of the Vikings home opener and a demonstration at the Twin Cities Marathon.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network also put a spotlight on Abrams' case, arguing that well-trained officers would've recognized his disability and calling for changes in the way people with autism are treated by police.

One of the officers involved was dismissed by Metro Transit. Last year a lawsuit was filed against the officers by Abrams' court-appointed guardian.

The Star Tribune says that suit was recently settled for $40,000 and Abrams is due in court this week on his assaulting an officer charge.

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