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New video in Jaleel Stallings case shows what led up to shots fired and beating

Stallings argued self-defense after shooting at MPD officers in response to less-lethal rounds fired at him. A jury acquitted him.

MINNEAPOLIS — New video sheds new light on an incident in which a man fired shots at Minneapolis police officers riding down Lake Street in an unmarked white van days after George Floyd’s death. 

Jaleel Stallings argued he was returning fire after MPD shot 2 less lethal rounds at his group – making him believe he was under attack.

Stallings pleaded not-guilty to charges of 2nd degree attempted murder and 1st degree assault – deadly force against a law enforcement officer.  He was acquitted by a jury last month after arguing he acted in self defense.

The incident has become controversial in part because Stallings’ attorney, Eric Rice, says the videos show prosecutors overcharged the case and relied on reports from police that are contradicted by the officers’ body worn cameras and surveillance video which captured the entire confrontation. And a judge’s order criticizes tactics used by MPD against civilians. The judge also mentioned statements made by officers he viewed as troubling.

KARE11 reviewed the footage which was released by Rice with permission from the court. It depicts the minutes leading up to the incident as Unit 1281 patrolled Lake Street in an unmarked white van, flanked by marked squad cars – which could not be seen by Stallings.

As the officers roll down Lake Street their body worn cameras show an eerily quiet street, lined with boarded up buildings, many spray-painted with George Floyd’s name and expletives condemning police.

At one point, the body camera shows officers firing less lethal rounds at pedestrians walking away. The two run. Just moments before the officers come upon Stallings’ group, they point their 40 mm launcher but do not shoot at another pedestrian, shouting “Go Away!” as the person who appears panicked runs off.

Rice, Stallings’ attorney, argues those videos show police were targeting civilians who were merely out past curfew – not rioters or looters.

Then as they approach a parking lot, Stallings and others come into view. It’s a small group standing around. Sgt. Bittell’s camera captures the audio of him shouting to his team, “Group to the parking lot in the north, group to the parking lot in the north running. Hit em!”

Then the videos show officers raising their 40mm launchers and 2 pops are heard, followed by 3 louder gunshots. The video shows a flash as Stallings fires. No officers were injured.

A separate surveillance video shows the puff of paint as the round hits Stallings and Stallings raising his gun and returning fire.

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors alleged the MPD officers fired only one less lethal round rather than the two shown on video.

“Shots fired!,” officers yell and then run from the van toward Stallings, guns drawn.

The surveillance video – shot from a distance – clearly shows Stallings lay flat on the ground on his stomach as soon as officers exit the van.

He testified that prior to that moment he believed the van could have been white supremacist groups targeting protesters. When he knew it was MPD, Stallings said, he immediately surrendered.

“Who would expect if shots are immediately fired and one hits you in the chest, who would expect it was the police?” Rice said.

For 20 seconds Stallings lies on the ground, hands raised above his head until officers reach him. The first, Officer Stetson, can be seen kicking him in the head. Other officers join in and beat and kick Stallings for approximately 30 seconds.

Officers and prosecutors claimed Stallings resisted arrest. Stetson’s report says: “This was a deadly force situation as I was just almost killed, and I feared for my life not knowing if he was still laying there with the gun or if there was a second shooter as several people were with this shooter when we first saw them.”

He writes that he kicked Stallings in the head “to gain immediate control over him. The kick did not gain control over him.”

In the aftermath, body worn camera shows superior officers asking Sgt. Bittell how Stallings was injured. 

UNKNOWN MPD SUPERVISOR: “What happened here?”  
BITTELL: “He was resisting when we approached. That’s how it happens.”
UNKNOWN SUPERVISOR: “That’s how it happens”

The videos do not appear to show any resistance to officers. No officer has been disciplined.

“As you can see from the videos they seem to show a very different sequence of events than what was reported in the officer's initial reports, and what’s written on the criminal complaint, and what was said in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office press release,” Rice said.

Stallings suffered a fractured bone in his face.

KARE 11 has posted excerpts of the most recent videos.  A warning, they contain explicit language and violence.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told KARE 11 the video needs to be viewed in context of the unrest following the murder of George Floyd:

I'm aware of the recent decision by the honorable Judge Koch who as a part of his decision noted context is important, and that the officers had just been through four days of rioting, looting, arson and the burning of the Third Precinct. Peaceful protest sometimes quickly escalated to violence. We respect the judicial process as well as the internal investigatory process which is currently active. It is for that reason I will not be commenting further at this time.”

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