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Video shows Minnesota jailer kneeing, punching handcuffed black man

Authorities released video that shows a Minnesota jail officer punching and kneeing a handcuffed black man who can be heard pleading for his life as other officers restrain him.

Posted: Feb 27, 2019 7:53 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Authorities released video that shows a Minnesota jail officer punching and kneeing a handcuffed black man who can be heard pleading for his life as other officers restrain him.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher on Monday released video  of the 2016 incident, which happened before his term. In a statement, Fletcher called the video "extremely disturbing," and said he is making changes, including appointing a new detention superintendent to oversee the jail.

"The conduct captured on the video will not be tolerated under my watch," the sheriff said.

Travis VanDeWiele, who is white, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct last month and has resigned. VanDeWiele had been a Ramsey County sheriff's correctional officer since 2014. He has been on paid administrative leave for the last two years.

The suspect who is being punched and kneed is Terrell James Johnson, then 24, who was brought in on a theft case.

The April 13, 2016, video was filmed by an "acting or temporary" correctional sergeant on duty. VanDeWiele is one of about five officers seen removing Johnson from a St. Paul police squad car at the Ramsey County jail.

According to the charges against VanDeWiele, Johnson had been sprayed with a chemical agent. He is handcuffed with his pants around his ankles. Johnson is lifted into a wheelchair-like "transport chair" after he falls to the ground limp.

VanDeWiele repeatedly orders Johnson to sit back as the suspect's hips remain raised. The video then shows VanDeWiele kneeing Johnson twice in the stomach, causing Johnson to protest and call all five officers "pigs."

When Johnson accuses the officers of using excessive force, VanDeWiele responds: "You ain't seen excessive force yet" before punching Johnson four times in the torso.

"Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me, I'm sorry," Johnson pleads in the video.

He eventually is secured in the chair and wheeled into jail. Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of theft in August 2016.

This week's video release came after a lengthy legal case for VanDeWiele. A sheriff's office employee raised concerns about the incident, and authorities from nearby Washington County were asked to investigate. Prosecutors from that county did not file felony charges. The case was then sent to Minneapolis prosecutors for review and VanDeWiele was charged with misdemeanors in February 2017.

The case's end was followed by an internal affairs investigation. VanDeWiele agreed to resign last week, and Fletcher — elected sheriff in November — moved to release the video.

The St. Paul branch of the NAACP and other organizations condemned "the horrific, racist and discriminatory treatment." County commissioners on Tuesday spent time discussing the incident and its effects on the community.

Ramsey County Board Chairman Jim McDonough said "the racial dynamics" are alarming of "a white officer acting upon a black male with a group of predominantly white officers present."

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called the actions shown in the video "torture."

"We can't separate the individual actions from the law enforcement culture that allowed him to feel like it was OK to do that and that allowed several deputies to stand around and watch it take place," Carter said.

In a court filing, VanDeWiele's attorney wrote that prosecutors did not produce any evidence that the officer "used unreasonable force to gain the compliance of an uncooperative inmate."

County commissioners said Tuesday they'll do whatever it takes to prevent a recurrence.

"We do take this seriously — very seriously — and need to do everything that we can to correct this to make sure something like this does not happen again," Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt said.

Commissioner Toni Carter added: "There is a strand of Jim Crow-like culture that continues to exist even into this very day."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
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