U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On Saturday night, 30 May 2020, at about 11 pm, an unmarked white police van with the lights off is looking for groups of people who are violating curfew. The van is prowling in the area of Minneapolis where there had been extensive rioting and protests. A curfew is in effect. It was put in place the previous day. It has been five days after George Floyd had died in police custody.
The unmarked police van carries Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) SWAT team members. Several have 40mm launchers loaded with rubber bullets used to disperse rioters.
They have been given orders to fire rubber bullets at people who are violating the curfew. The van is followed by police cars, but all the lights have been turned off. The SWAT officers are not told to identify themselves before they fire. The orders are precisely the opposite.
The Sergeant in charge of the van tells his team (from the body cam transcripts) “The first f***ers we see, we’re just hammering ’em with ’40s.”
The police do not fire at everyone who is out. They fire without warning at who they choose.
Jaleel Stallings had been participating in the protests. He is a truck driver from St. Paul and a veteran. He has no criminal record. He has a Minnesota carry permit.
He stated, based on official pronouncements claiming white supremacists from out of town are seeking to harm blacks and people of color, he armed himself for self-protection. Those pronouncements were not substantiated and did not come from the police.
From courthousenews.com, Department of Safety Commissioner John Harrington, then-Mayor Jacob Frey:
He said some of the 40 arrests made in the Twin Cities Friday night were of people linked to white supremacist groups and organized crime.
“The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. “They are coming largely from outside the city outside the region to prey on everything we have built.”
Stallings is violating the curfew. He is in a parking lot. He has seen marked police cars go by with lights on. They did not stop or talk to him.
A few seconds before the van comes into sight of Stallings, a person runs past him, shouting: “They’re shooting, they’re shooting!” From kstp.com:
Stallings was made aware of the unit approaching when a civilian ran past his location at a parking lot near the intersection of 15th Avenue and East Lake Street. The civilian was shouting, “they’re shooting, they’re shooting!” At no point did Stallings or the people with Stallings identify the people shooting as police. According to Stallings, he wasn’t made aware of whom the people shooting at the crowds were, as they never made their presence openly known.
At 10:53 pm, the van comes into sight of Jaleel Stallings. He is next to his pickup truck in the parking lot. They immediately fire 40mm rubber bullet rounds at Stallings, from 70 feet away. It is dark. The van is moving. It has no lights on. Stallings is hit in the lower chest. He returns fire, hitting the street in front of the van. He fires three or four rounds from his mini Draco pistol. No officer is struck.
The officers yell “Shots fired! Shots fired!” and exit the van. At this point, Stallings says he realized they were police officers, puts his weapon on the ground, away from his body, and lays face down, with his hands above his head.
After firing his weapon at the officers “three or four times,” Stallings, a military veteran, then realized it was police and put his pistol down and laid down on the ground, after police yelled, “shots fired, shots fired.” He didn’t move for about 20 seconds as the officers approached. Body camera footage shows police kicking and punching Stallings while he was lying on the ground, as stated by the judge in court records.
From here on, the stories diverge.
There are several contradictions between the official police story and the transcripts from the body camera video and audio, which were reviewed by a judge and became part of the trial record.
The officers cautiously approach Stallings, then viciously beat him with fists and feet for about 30 seconds. Stallings is not resisting. The beating is caught on body cameras.
Because the officers had not fired lethal rounds, the arrest is not considered a “shooting incident”. The officers claim Stallings resisted arrest.
The officers were not separated and questioned, as is required by MPD procedure in a shooting incident. They were allowed to watch body cam videos before giving their official statements for the trial. Those statements came later, and sometimes contradict what the officers wrote in their reports, earlier. The police claimed Stallings resisted. The body camera video shows he did not resist. One of the lesser discrepancies is the officers repeatedly referring to the Draco pistol as a rifle.
Minnesota law applies extra penalties for assaulting a police officer but does not require knowledge of the person that the person assaulted was a police officer.
This is an interpretation of the law that is open to abuse.
Stallings had his $75,000 dollar cash bail paid by Minnesota Freedom Fund, a group that protests bail practices. He was able to hire a good lawyer. The lawyer obtained the body cam videos of the incident and the commands concerning us of the 40mm launchers and rubber bullets. The body camera video directly contradicted what was in the officer’s written reports. From minnesotareformer.com:
Stallings hired defense attorney Eric Rice of St. Paul, who obtained two hours of bodycam videos that he said tell a different story than what officers and prosecutors told the public.
“It’s hard to watch the videos,” he said in an interview. “They are very graphic and visceral. It makes it very clear what the intention of the officers were.”
The videos show the SWAT team tried to conceal its identity, didn’t warn people before firing on them, gave numerous false and misleading accounts of the incident and — when presented with contradictory evidence — changed their stories, Rice said.
Stallings trial was held in late July 2021. After a five-day trial, the jury acquitted him of all charges, by reason of self-defense. It appears the officers violated department policy in several ways. There has not been any disciplinary action noted as of the end of the trial.
The digital age, where recordings of most public activities hold the police to account, is changing policing and encouraging honesty. When black people realize they will be held innocent until proved guilty, the trust in the system increases.
Cameras and other recording devices have become as important as firearms in saving the Republic and enforcing the Bill of Rights. Both are important tools for Second Amendment activists.
Analysis and commentary: It is this correspondent’s opinion the officers violated policy, and the law. There were other police units that night that did not indiscriminately fire 40mm rubber bullets.
The situation came about, in large part, because the media encouraged violent protests by their extremely selective and emotional reporting of the George Floyd case. Most conservative media, such as Hannity and Limbaugh contributed to the narrative, responding to the Floyd George video without serious analysis or due process.
This alienated and angered the police. It incited the public. The Minnesota Democrat government fanned the flames with unfounded accusations of “white supremacists”, and accusations against police in general, which the police had reason to believe were false. Most of the out-of-state activists promoting violence were far-left and/or anarchists. It is a pretty good description of Antifa.
The police and residents were set at odds. Violence was encouraged. The purpose appeared to be: motivate black voters to vote against President Trump, who was repeatedly portrayed in the media as a racist. It worked. President Trump lost the disputed 2020 elections by a narrow margin.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.