A man who was charged with attempted murder after allegedly firing shots at Minneapolis officers amid George Floyd protests last year was acquitted of all counts.
Jaleel Stallings, 29, of St. Paul, Minnesota, argued via lawyers that he acted in self-defense and fired three shots after being struck by rubber bullets, believing that he was being attacked by civilians, not police.
Lawyers for the man said Stallings surrendered after realizing he was firing at police. No officers were injured, according to court documents.
Stallings was facing two counts of second-degree attempted murder, assault, and other charges.
Video footage and court documents said that the officers approached Stallings in an unmarked white van, and testimony from one of the officers said they did not identify themselves as police and didn’t warn Stallings if he didn’t comply, according to KARE.
The documents said that Stallings “believed white supremacists (or, perhaps, other non-law enforcement individuals) were firing upon him.”
A news release at the time released by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office that Stallings “quickly ran away while officers began searching for him” after the incident.
In court, the officers testified that they believed Stallings was a rioter and felt the use of force was necessary because they believed him to be armed.
But a judge found that two officers violated Stallings’ Fourth Amendment rights during the arrest and that their actions were unreasonable.
“Officer Stetson and Sergeant Bittell allowed their anger and/or fear to overtake their faculties and they beat Mr. Stallings for nearly 30 seconds before attempting to place him in handcuffs,“ Judge William Koch wrote. “The video evidence does not support their testimony Mr. Stallings was resisting arrest in any way, instead he surrendered to their authority.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo issued a statement saying there is an active investigation into the matter.
“I’m aware of the recent decision by the honorable Judge Koch who as a part of his decision noted context is important, and that the officers had just been through four days of rioting, looting, arson and the burning of the Third Precinct. Peaceful protest sometimes quickly escalated to violence,” said Arradondo. “We respect the judicial process as well as the internal investigatory process which is currently active. It is for that reason I will not be commenting further at this time.”
During last year’s riots in Minneapolis, tens of millions of dollars in damage was reportedly wrought by rioters, arsons, and looters. More than 1,500 businesses were damaged or destroyed in the riots that were sparked by the death of Floyd.
AP contributed to this report.