State and feds investigating MPD beating of Jaleel Stallings

Man who was with Stallings was also beaten, Tased for 2 minutes, and is suing city

By: - February 18, 2022 8:00 am

Virgil Lee Jackson Jr. was on his knees with his hands up before a Minneapolis SWAT team beat and Tased him for two minutes after his friend Jaleel Stallings shot back at them after they hit him in the chest with a marking round from an unmarked white cargo van on May 30, 2020. Screenshot from body camera video.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are investigating an incident involving a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team, during which they fired marking rounds at civilians for being out after curfew, and then beat two men. 

The incident occurred five days after the police murder of George Floyd. 

Body camera video footage shows a SWAT team driving around Minneapolis in an unmarked white cargo van, firing 40mm marking rounds — sometimes called rubber bullets — as police sought to regain control of the city after several nights of riots, arson and looting. 

One of the rounds hit a man named Jaleel Stallings, an Army veteran who fired back at police, thinking he was under attack from white supremacists who were said to be roaming the city. After he was charged with attempted murder of police, he was acquitted by a Hennepin County jury and is now suing the city

The case was the subject of a Sept. 1 Reformer story.

A man who was with Stallings that night, Virgil Lee Jackson Jr., told the Reformer he was interviewed by state and federal investigators Tuesday about what happened to him and Stallings.

The Reformer confirmed the investigation with another source familiar with the probe. 

Virgil Lee Jackson Jr. after he was beaten, Tased and handcuffed by a Minneapolis SWAT team after his friend Jaleel Stallings shot back at them after they hit him in the chest with a marking round from an unmarked white cargo van on May 30, 2020. Screenshot from body camera video.

Minneapolis police and the state BCA have not yet responded to a request for comment, and a spokesman for the FBI declined comment, saying the agency doesn’t comment until public documents are filed.

A state and federal investigation of the case is just the latest instance of heightened scrutiny of the MPD, which is already the target of a U.S. Department of Justice civil investigation to determine whether the department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.

And, the investigation comes as MPD faces criticism for the killing of Amir Locke, who was shot by an officer when police — including two members of the SWAT team involved in the Stallings/Jackson incident — executed a no-knock search warrant. Locke was armed with a permitted pistol at the time of the early morning incident, but he was not a suspect in any crime.

Stallings’ story is well known, and the City Council recently discussed in closed session his civil lawsuit against the city. 

Jackson is now also suing the city. 

Bodycam videos show officers beating Jackson and attacking him with a Taser. 

After the SWAT team and Stallings exchanged fire, the officers jumped out of the van yelling “Shots fired!” and “Get on the ground.” Stallings dropped to the ground. Jackson dropped to his knees and put his hands up.

But the officers still beat both of the men. While Stallings was beaten for 30 seconds, Jackson was beaten and hit with the Taser for two minutes, according to bodycam footage and his attorney, Tim Phillips. 

The officer who used the Taser on Jackson had the device in “drive stun” mode, meaning the Taser is used as a weapon by holding it against the body to cause incapacitating pain, Phillips said. The officers kept telling Jackson to put his hands behind his back, and he tried to comply but was getting struck “all over,” Phillips said.

Minneapolis police officers mill about after a SWAT team beat and Tased Virgil Lee Jackson Jr. and his friend Jaleel Stallings because Stallings shot back at them after they hit him in the chest with a marking round from an unmarked white cargo van while patrolling Lake Street on May 30, 2020. Screenshot from body camera video.

The bodycam video shows Jackson repeatedly pleading “I’m on the ground!” and “I’m not resisting!” as they escalated to the Taser. He screamed in pain and yelled “I’ve never touched a gun! Ever!” and “Oh my God” and “I’m a teacher!” Jackson was teaching at the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul at the time and had stood guard over the school to protect it from vandalism or looting earlier that week.

Additional bodycam videos from the officers who beat Jackson could be unearthed through Jackson’s lawsuit. The city has not responded to a request for comment about the suit.

Jackson’s lawsuit claims the officers violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force, that other officers failed to intervene as required, and that one of the officers stole Jackson’s cell phone. He claims the city had an unwritten custom of using excessive force and adhered to a code of silence, as documented by other lawsuits related to MPD’s conduct after Floyd’s murder. 

The city faces three class-action lawsuits and suits filed by several people who were blinded or permanently disabled after being hit with police projectiles during protests.

Phillips said the incident was “incredibly traumatic and absolutely unacceptable” and left Jackson with “the emotional trauma of being essentially tortured.”

“He didn’t even fire the gun. He was just in the parking lot,” Phillips said. “There was no reason for any force at all.”

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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.