A Minnesota man who shot at SWAT officers during a George Floyd protest in May 2020 has been acquitted of all counts.
Jaleel Stallings of St. Paul reportedly fired at SWAT police officers three times during a protest in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody. The 29-year-old was reportedly struck by rubber bullets and testified that he thought he was being attacked by other citizens. He said he believed he was struck by a bullet and believed he was potentially bleeding out.
According to the Associated Press, Stallings was shot at by officers with rubber bullets after it appeared he was reaching for a rock. The police were in an unmarked van when he fired back at them with a real weapon. His lawyer argued in his July trial that Stallings argued that he acted in self-defense.
Court documents show that after Stalling was hit by rubber bullets, he fired three shots toward the van as a warning, and then took cover. He surrendered once he realized he was firing at police officers. His bullets did not strike any officers.
The AP reports:
Stallings’ case drew new attention this week when an online digital news outlet, Minnesota Reformer, reported on his acquittal and examined the case in depth. The Reformer published body camera footage of his arrest that shows Minneapolis SWAT officers punching and kicking Stallings as he lay on the ground.
A booking photo of Stallings taken after his arrest shows visible facial injuries. Rice said Stallings testified he had a suspected eye socket fracture, bruising and cuts. Court documents say he also had labored breathing after the arrest, which Rice said was likely due to the impact of the rubber bullet to his chest.
Rice said he’s not aware of any pending investigation or discipline for the officers, but requested such information if it existed and believes it should have been disclosed as part of trial discovery.
Body camera footage obtained by the Minnesota Reformer shows officers punching and kicking him before placing him under arrest.
Judge William Koch, who presided over the case, wrote in a pretrial order that Stallings posed no obvious threat to the officers as he had surrendered and was laying motionless for 20 seconds. The judge found their conduct to be a violation of Stallings’ Fourth Amendment rights.
Officer [Justin] Stetson and Sergeant [Andrew] 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. The video evidence does not support their testimony Mr. Stallings was resisting arrest in any way, instead he surrendered to their authority.
Further, Sergeant Bittell’s and Officer Stetson’s conduct during their arrest of Mr. Stallings is a Fourth Amendment issue relating to the reasonableness of their seizure.
Stallings was acquitted of all eight counts, including two counts of attempted murder in the second degree.
The officers who brutalized, and subsequently arrested Stallings are now having their actions reviewed by internal affairs.