Bodycam video: MPD beat Jaleel Stallings after he fired on officers in self defense

By: - September 2, 2021 8:53 am

Body camera footage obtained by the Reformer shows Minneapolis police officers beating and detaining Jaleel Stallings.The officers had shot less lethal munitions at Stallings and other people from a moving, unmarked van after curfew in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. Stallings, not knowing they were police officers, returned fire.

Contains graphic video.

The Reformer has obtained four body camera videos from an incident at 14th Avenue and Lake Street in which a St. Paul man shot at a Minneapolis SWAT team after they fired “less lethal” rubber bullets at him from an unmarked van while he stood in a parking lot.

The incident, which took place five days after George Floyd’s murder rocked the city, was the subject of a Wednesday Reformer story.

St. Paul truck driver Jaleel K. Stallings, 29, fired three shots at the Minneapolis police officers after they fired their rubber bullets at him and others without warning from a darkened cargo van that was crawling along Lake Street that night.

Stallings was recently acquitted of eight charges stemming from the shooting after testifying during his trial that he didn’t know they were cops and thought they might be the white supremacists Gov. Tim Walz had warned citizens about.

The bodycam videos released by the city attorney’s office to Stallings’ attorney Wednesday shows only the shooting and about nine minutes of the aftermath, before the SWAT team was told to shut off their cameras. More of the two hours’ worth of videos obtained by Stallings’ attorney may be released after a hearing later this month.

In the video, the van is driving on Lake Street as Sgt. Andrew Bittell tells the SWAT team there’s a group in the parking lot to the north, and they begin firing at Stallings, who immediately returns fire.

When the officers yell “Shots fired! Shots fired!”and jump out of the van, Stallings lies down and drops his weapon. Stallings has said that’s when he realized they were cops.

Bittell had earlier given his unit orders to “Drive down Lake Street. You see a group, call it out. OK great! F*** ’em up, gas ’em, f*** ’em up.” His bodycam video shows that in the roughly 20 seconds it took the officers to approach Stallings, he had dropped his gun on the ground and was face down on the pavement, with his hands to his side.

“You f***ing piece of sh**!” Officer Justin Stetson yells, and begins kicking and punching Stallings in the head and neck.

Stallings repeatedly tries to surrender, saying “Listen, listen, sir, I’m trying to” as they beat him, with Bittell kneeing and punching Stallings in the stomach, chest and back. For about 30 seconds, Bittell and Stetson punch and kick Stallings in the head, neck, stomach, chest and back.

Midway through, Stetson tells Stallings to put his arms behind his back, and Stallings repeatedly says “I’m trying to” but is unable because an officer appears to be sitting on his arm while punching him.

After handcuffing him, Bittell sits Stallings up and kicks him in the ribs as Stetson continues hitting him in the head.

Bittell tells Stetson to stop hitting Stallings, but he continues, even after Bittell says “That’s it; stop it,”  until Bittell finally grabs his hand and says, “It’s OK.”

Bittell radios in the incident as other officers repeatedly tase another person who was with Stallings, causing the man to scream in pain.

When the officers roll Stallings over, he looks dazed, bloodied and unresponsive as Bittell orders him moved to “recovery” position.

After Stallings is arrested, the officers gathered for a debriefing.

“Did anybody shoot?” Sgt. Bittell asks his unit. Nobody says they had. Officer do not mention that they’d shot Stallings with rubber bullets before he fired back.

“Who are our shooters?” a responding officer asks Bittell.

“Nobody. He shot at us. Then he gave up,” replies Bittell.

Bittell repeatedly says Stallings shot at the van, saying Stallings “shot right into the van as (Unit 1281) engaged with 40s.”

The other officers agree, saying they didn’t “shoot” at Stallings. During a December court hearing, the officers said they meant that they didn’t shoot at him with live ammunition from a lethal weapon.

About nine minutes after the shooting, the unit was ordered to turn off its body cameras.

In response to the Reformer story Wednesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement indicating the incident was under investigation, saying, “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 3rd Precinct. Peaceful protest sometimes quickly escalated to violence. We respect the judicial process as well as the internal investigatory process which is currently active.”

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.