The Black St. Paul man who alleged he fired at police at Minneapolis police officers in self-defense last year during a protest following the death of George Floyd has been acquitted of all charges.
Jaleel Stallings, 29, was arrested last year for returning fire at police officers, and claimed he did not know the people shooting were officers because they were in an unmarked vehicle. Stallings was charged with attempted murder and found not guilty earlier this year. On Sept. 1, he was acquitted on all eight charges stemming from the incident, The Minnesota Reformer reported.
Footage obtained by the Minnesota Reformer also shows that officers beat Stallings after he fired at the officers.
On May 30, 2020, amid a night of protests, officers in a mostly unmarked van began firing rubber bullets at a group they spotted standing in a parking lot. Thinking the bullets were real and were being fired by civilians, Stallings, an Army veteran, fired back three times with a pistol for which he had permit. He later said that in the back of his mind he remembered Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s warning that white supremacists were in the area looking for trouble. Stallings was struck several times by the rounds and thought he was bleeding out. No officers were injured by the gunfire
Stallings testified that he realized he had been firing at police officers when the SWAT team jumped out of the vehicle. He dropped his weapon and laid on the pavement. During the beating that followed, Stallings’ eye socket was fractured.
Footage of the beating was released on Sept. 1. Officers say Stallings posed a threat, but according to a pretrial order written by Hennepin County District Judge William Koch, who was not the trial judge, Stallings did not pose a threat and was lying on the pavement motionless for 20 seconds before Officer Justin Stetson and Sgt. Andrew Bittell approached him. Bittell had previously given orders to officers, saying, “You see a group, call it out. OK great! F–k ’em up, gas ’em, f–k ’em up.”
The body camera video begins with members of the SWAT team jumping out of the vehicle and running toward Stallings, who was on the ground, and other people nearby.
His mug shot shows the injuries he sustained from being hit by the officers. Stetson and Bittell kicked and hit Stallings in the head and body repeatedly until Bittell instructed, “That’s it, stop it.” The officer continued hitting Stallings until the Bittell said again, “Stop, stop. It’s OK,” grabbing Stetson’s hand.
Bittell then instructed that Stallings, who was bleeding from his head, be placed in the recovery position.
Stallings was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted second-degree intentional, non-premeditated murder, two counts of first-degree assault, deadly force against police officers, two counts of second-degree assault, use of a dangerous weapon, one count of second-degree rioting and one count of intentional discharge of a firearm.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund paid $75,000 cash to get Stallings released from jail on bond. A jury acquitted Stallings on all charges last week.
According to the order from Judge Koch, which allowed Stallings to claim self-defense at trial, the officers who beat the Black man “allowed their anger and/or fear to overtake their faculties and they beat Mr. Stallings for nearly 30 seconds before attempting to place him in handcuffs.” He added, “The video evidence does not support their testimony Mr. Stallings was resisting arrest in any way, instead he surrendered to their authority.”
Koch found that the officers violated Stallings’ Fourth Amendment rights and acted unreasonably. Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder told The Associated press he couldn’t confirm whether the officers involved are facing disciplinary action because the situation is under review.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, said in a statement, “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.”