Excessive Force in Robbinsdale? Where’s CUAPB?

March 23, 2014 at 2:51 am 3 comments

By Andrew Richter

From the Sun Post:

Melvin Newbern, a Robbinsdale resident, claims that Robbinsdale Police Officer Brian Sloat used excessive force during a Feb. 13, 2013 arrest for DWI and obstruction of the legal process. Newbern’s attorney, Andrew Noel, said a lawsuit was filed against Sloat on March 5 seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Robbinsdale Police Chief Steve Smith said he had not received a copy of the lawsuit and thus declined to comment.

Newbern was driving home from a doctor’s appointment when, according to Sloat’s police report, he swerved along Victory Memorial Parkway several times, prompting Sloat to initiate a traffic stop.

So he and his doctor must have had a cocktail or two after his appointment……

Sloat instructed Newbern to perform multiple field sobriety tests. Newbern, according to the police report, had trouble maintaining his balance on one foot. Eventually, Sloat instructed Newbern to sit in the back seat of Sloat’s police car. Newbern, according to the report, made multiple attempts to stay seated there, but ultimately refused, insisting that he was “too big in size” and “claustrophobic.” Newbern is 6-5 and weighs 330 pounds.

Wow…..better get him in Hennepin County’s Active Living Program….

Both the report and Noel say that Newbern asked for Sloat to “get the paddy wagon,” a larger police vehicle that may have more easily accommodated Newbern’s size. After a succession of refusals, Sloat informed Newbern that he was under arrest for obstruction of the legal process, handcuffed him, and, again, instructed him to enter the squad car. When Newbern refused, Sloat used two “knee strikes” to knock the handcuffed Newbern to the ground. Sloat called for backup, and the additional responding officers and he were able to assist Newbern into the car, according to Sloat’s report.

“The real heart of the case is the question of, ‘is it reasonable to use a leg strikes on a subject who’s handcuffed behind his back and not offering any type of physical threat or resistance’?” asked Noel, rhetorically. “The clear answer is no.” “It was a civil encounter. There wasn’t any violence or argument from Melvin Newbern. If you want to get him to the station there was another way to get him there,” Noel said, adding that Newbern’s request for a paddy wagon shows his cooperation with Sloat.

Noel also said that Newbern hit his head on the ground during the incident and was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion. While being questioned by police after his arrest, Newbern said he did not have any injuries and denied and refused any medical attention from North Memorial Medical Center paramedics, according to Sloat’s report. However, the report also says Newbern’s memory of the events leading up to his arrest – such as the field sobriety tests – was murky.

A urine test for liquor and other intoxicants in Newbern’s system came back “clean,” Noel said. Noel said the suit will seek compensatory damages for Newbern’s physical injury, loss of work, future medical treatment, and mental anguish and pain. It will also seek punitive damages against Sloat. “The essence of that claim is that this kind of conduct is egregious,” Noel said.

He stressed that he doesn’t intend for Sloat to be fired.

No, you’re the good guy right? You won’t call for him to be fired as long as Robbinsdale coughs up some dough.

“We’re just asking that police officers be trained to not use that type of force on someone who’s handcuffed behind his back,” Noel explained.

Well, then simply ask him then.

While Noel said he expects every case he files to go to trial, he thinks Newbern’s case could be resolved with an out-of-court settlement. “This is a case where I think both sides could get together early on and try to resolve it,” Noel said.

He declined to estimate the amount of money to be had from such a settlement. However, Noel recently settled for $140,000 from the City of Minneapolis in a separate excessive force case stemming from a May 29, 2010, incident between an off-duty Minneapolis Police Officer and a bar patron.

Which means the lawyer pocketed $50,000 or so…..

Now, folks I don’t know what happened here. I don’t know the definition of excessive force or if this case meets it. But I have a question; where is the group Communities United Against Police Brutality? Are they going to storm the Robbinsdale City Council meeting? Are they going to hold protests in Robbinsdale or blanket the city with flyers calling for this officer’s head?

Or are they too busy suing Crystal taxpayers and council people?? CUAPB where are you??



Entry filed under: Community, Robbinsdale, Safety.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joe Bowen  |  April 1, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Hey man, I think you make an excellent point about the Communities United group here. Would you be interested in submitting this – or anything else, really – as a formal op-ed in the Sun Post?

  • 2. communitysolutionsmn  |  April 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    I don’t know Joe….not sure how much I want that group after me…..Ill try and write something up tomorrow and let you know.

  • 3. Mark  |  October 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    CUAPB kept saying they would be at court supporting me also but never showed now when the case is almost at trial next month they don’t show any support. I think if your not a minority or in a city they want then they don’t want to help you. Nov 12 2014 we will see if they show up in St. Paul for the trial.


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