UPDATE: Following the release of the body camera footage, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman released a statement declining to prosecute the family members charged.
Disturbing and hard to watch.
That was the reaction from most in the room when video footage of an Aug. 11, 2019 incident involving Minneapolis Police and a North Minneapolis family was shown to media and community members during a Jan. 7 press conference at the Minneapolis Urban League. The video shows police tasering Champaign Hale, 28, for nearly one minute straight as Hale is on the ground pleading with the officer to stop. Her brother, Lee Evans, 29, already in handcuffs (Evans was immediately cuffed when Hale was initially tasered, even though he had not at that moment tried to intervene in the confrontation), was also tasered multiple times as he tried to shield his sister from the agonizing jolts of electricity. Now with Hale, Evans and a third sister, Brandy Adams, 33, facing 18 counts in total including felony assault on a police officer (Hale and Evans), community leaders and activists are calling for those charges to be dropped and instead have the officers involved brought up on criminal charges.
“What we saw was misconduct,” said Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “These were long, uninterrupted (streams of electricity) meant only to inflict maximum pain. And let’s remember, a taser isn’t a non-lethal weapon, it’s a less lethal weapon. Countless people have died from being tasered. Again, this was criminal conduct on behalf of the officers.”
Officers Sean Hyman and Ty Jindra both deployed tasers – Hyman on Hale and Evans and Jindra on Hale. According to Hyman’s taser log, he actively deployed his weapon for a total of 88 seconds – most directed at Hale.
In another jarring segment, Adams is taken from inside the home and then – while handcuffed – shoved off the elevated porch, being hurled face-first into a chain-link fence. The officer who shoved Adams off the elevated porch, Jindra, wrote in his sworn statement that, “As we walked up the stairs and got to the top, (Adams) began kicking her feet back into me, kicking me several times in the shins. I then pushed her away from me, and as she was extremely intoxicated she fell forward out off the house and onto the ground.” Upon review of body-camera footage from both Jindra and Hyman his statement appears to be contradicted with the footage; especially his own, which shows Adams’ feet walking forward up the stairs and not kicking back as Jindra wrote.
Community organizer Al Flowers was visibly emotional when discussing the incident.
“I could only watch three minutes,” said Flowers, of the videos, which are more than 16 minutes in duration. “And Lee … Lee was trying to protect his sister. He did nothing wrong. Now y’all see the video to prove it.”
Flowers said the incident captured on camera brought back painful memories of his encounter with Minneapolis Police.
In July of 2014 Flowers said he was beaten unconscious by Minneapolis police attempting to serve a search warrant on his then minor daughter. In that incident Flowers was charged with assault on an officer, but the Hennepin County attorney refused to try the case. Flowers later settled a civil suit against the department.
Gross said the prosecution against the three siblings in the Aug. 11 incident is malicious and an effort to avoid another costly city payout.
“According to law, if they (Adams, Evans and Hale) are convicted in the incident then they can’t bring forth a civil lawsuit,” said Gross. “So this is a risk management strategy.”
According the Flowers the officer in his brutality incident was fired and that is what he wants to happen to Hyman and Jindra. Community organizer Spike Moss agreed.
“What you saw here was a police riot,” said Moss. “A riot filled with hate and racism. When they (officers) saw the children were African-American their hate began to show. If you look at the tape you see how they talk to the mother (who is white) and how it immediately changed when they encountered the children.”
The group is calling on the community to show up at the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday (Jan. 13) and again on Jan. 21 for the separate trials of Hale and Evans.