Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday announced third-degree assault charges against a former Minneapolis police officer for his conduct during the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
The complaint alleges that former Minneapolis Police Officer Justin Stetson, 34, of the Anoka County community of Nowthen, repeatedly struck Jaleel Stallings for close to 30 seconds. This happened after Stallings fired a gun at a white van, believing the occupants could be the White supremacists that Gov. Walz warned Twin Citians about. When Stallings realized they were Minneapolis police officers, he surrendered and lay on the ground.
Body camera video footage first published in the Minnesota Reformer shows an officer, identified in the complaint as Stetson, saying, “F****** piece of s***” before punching, kicking, and physically slamming Stallings, even after handcuffing him, after the shooting.
The assault left Stallings, an Army veteran, with a fractured orbital, the bone that surrounds the eye. Stallings was charged but was acquitted, and ultimately won a $1.5 million lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis in May. He no longer lives in Minnesota because he told the Minnesota Reformer he fears retaliation.
The Star Tribune reports Stenson joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2008, with a city of Minnetonka newsletter saying he was a community service officer. He became a Minnetonka police officer in 2012 and also held non-sworn roles at both the Minneapolis Parks Police and the Three Rivers Park District. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who retired as a Minneapolis police officer in 2012.
In his time in Minneapolis, Stenson amassed 12 complaints, according to the Communities United Against Police Brutality complaints database. Three of his cases remain open. He received one letter of reprimand in 2016 for not contacting a supervisor about using force to apprehend someone in front of a restaurant on West Broadway in December 2014. He also lied in his testimony against Stallings in court, according to the Minnesota Reformer.
Stenson left the MPD sometime this year, and his POST license is also inactive; the last training he took to keep it current was in December 2021.
The summons does not list a date for when Stetson is to appear in court. He faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Outgoing Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman referred the case to AG Ellison in April because of a conflict of interest.
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