MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – A 67-year-old man says Bloomington police punched him in the face and beat and Tasered him while he lay helpless, pinned to the ground by cops, as the culmination of a dispute that started because he let his well-behaved dog walk off the leash at a park.
In his federal complaint for assault and battery and civil rights violations, Issac Ward, a retired salesman who happens to be black, claims that after he was cited for letting his wife’s Shih-Tzu run off the leash at a park, he “began to regularly notice the Animal Control officer following his vehicle while he was driving in the vicinity of the park.”
Ward says he prides himself on being a responsible dog owner and always carries bags with him to clean up after the dog.
The second time the dog was off the leash, Ward says, the same Animal Control officer “pulled his vehicle into the lot, jumped out, and ordered [him] to cut his engine and give him his driver’s license.”
Ward says he told the officer that he was “tired of being harassed” and to send him a ticket in the mail.
He says the Animal Control officer followed him home and pulled up behind him on the street. Ward says he was “upset by the fact that the Animal Control officer had apparently followed him, and got out of his car and made profane statements to the Animal Control officer, who remained seated in his stationary vehicle.”
During the argument, Ward’s wife told him to go inside and calm down. Ward says he “agreed to do so, entered his wife’s condominium, and sat down on the living room couch. He worked on some puzzles and tried to calm down.”
Ward claims that without explanation, the Animal Control officer left, then 15 fifteen minutes later five or six Bloomington police officers showed up.
Defendant police Sgt. Thomas Williams asked his wife “if there were any weapons in the condominium unit and asked if Mr. Ward had any history of physical violence,” the complaint states.
Mrs. Ward replied that she “had known Mr. Ward for 30 years and that she had never known him to act violently.”
The complaint states: “Mrs. Ward was then escorted to, and placed inside, the locked back seat of one of the squad cars. While deprived of her liberty in the squad car, Mrs. Ward was unable to see the entryway to the condominium building and was thus unable to witness the unlawful, brutal, and outrageous actions of the individual defendants that ensued.”
The police then entered the condo building and arrested her husband. Sgt. Williams told Ward “to turn around and put his hands behind his back,” and Williams complied, the complaint states.
“In complying with Sergeant Williams’ request, Mr. Ward found himself face-to-face with Officer [Kevin] Olson. Mr. Ward saw Officer Olson, without provocation by Mr. Ward, suddenly ball up his right fist before punching him in the left eye. In his supplemental report regarding the incident, Officer Olson admitted to delivering three closed-fist strikes to Mr. Ward’s face.
“Almost simultaneously, Mr. Ward was hit in the back of the head, and several police officers piled on his back from behind,” the complaint states.
After kneeing him repeatedly in the ribs while other cops held him down, defendant Olson told him to “shut the fuck up” and that “none of this would be happening to you if you had cooperated,” Ward says. Olson told him to “start cooperating or it will get worse.”
During the beating, Ward says he “managed to free his left arm and put it behind his back as requested.” As he lay with both hands behind his back, the cops “pulled up his sweatshirt and discharged a Taser in ‘drive stun’ mode right on his back bone. The officer repeatedly applied and discharged the Taser to Mr. Ward’s back, as well as his right hand. Each Taser application delivered a 50,00- volt electric shock that caused Mr. Ward to suffer excruciating pain.”
Ward then spent “several hours” at the police department, without medical attention, and sent to the county jail at around midnight, where he was finally given ice and pain relievers.
“Mr. Ward was formally arrested on a warrant stemming from having incorrect license tabs on his car. He was ultimately charged with one gross misdemeanor count of obstructing legal process accompanied by force or violence, one misdemeanor count of obstructing legal process, and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
“On the day of his criminal trial in February 2011 at which he was represented by a public defender, Mr. Ward agreed to a plea bargain. Consequently, he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count of obstructing legal process for his failure to comply with the Animal Control Officer’s verbal instructions, received a suspended 28-day sentence, and was ordered to perform 24 hours of community service at the Animal Humane Society. In turn, the City of Bloomington’s attorney dismissed the disorderly conduct charge and the gross misdemeanor obstruction of legal process charge.”
Ward says he suffered pain and suffering and permanent aggravation of a spinal problem from the unprovoked beating and Tasering. He seeks punitive damages. He is represented by William Pentelovitch with Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand.