$190k workers’ comp settlement to officer involved in beating incident

State and federal authorities are investigating the circumstances of the beating of Jaleel Stallings and Virgil Lee Jackson, Jr.

By: - March 15, 2022 7:30 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.

A Minneapolis officer involved in an alleged police brutality incident, which is now under investigation by state and federal authorities, will get a $190,000 workers compensation settlement from the city. 

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to approve the payment — which will be spread out over four years — to Minneapolis police officer Cory Taylor.

Taylor was on a SWAT team that drove around in an unmarked van firing rubber bullets at people without warning five days after the police murder of George Floyd. They wound up severely beating two men. 

Taylor was in the back of an unmarked, white Cargo Van when one of the people the SWAT team shot at with rubber bullets was struck and fired back with a real pistol because, he later testified, he didn’t know they were police and thought he’d been hit by gunfire. Jaleel Stallings, an Army veteran who had a permit for the pistol, was later acquitted of eight charges after claiming self-defense in a jury trial.

Taylor was providing cover for the SWAT team, armed with a rifle, according to his police report on the incident. Earlier that night, the SWAT team confronted what he said were “thousands” of protesters, and some threw things at police, injuring them, and officers had been shot at on Lake Street the two nights before, he wrote.

The van was westbound on Lake Street, dispersing people out past curfew. After the van crossed 15th Avenue South, Taylor said he heard a SWAT team member fire his 40-mm launcher and then heard “at least three gunshots.” 

“At this time I was in fear for my life and for the life of my fellow officers,” Taylor wrote in his report. 

Taylor and the other SWAT team members jumped out of the van and ran toward a parking lot, as Stallings dropped to the ground. Taylor and other officers approached a man who had been hanging out with Stallings, Virgil Lee Jackson Jr. 

Taylor wrote that officers told Jackson to get on the ground, and he dropped to his knees and put his hands up. Taylor wrote that he pushed Jackson to the ground, and Taylor fell on his knees as he tried to push Jackson onto his stomach. 

Body camera video footage of the incident shows that while police beat Stallings for 30 seconds, fracturing his eye socket, Jackson was beaten and Tased for two minutes. The officers kept telling Jackson to put his hands behind his back, and he tried to comply but was getting Tased. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are investigating the incident, according to people who have been interviewed for the probe.

Taylor wrote that Jackson was on his side, so Taylor delivered several knee strikes to Jackson’s back to try to get him on his stomach. Taylor said he thought Jackson was moving his left arm toward his waistband “where people often keep handguns” so he punched Jackson’s arm while holding his rifle in his other hand. 

Both Stallings and Jackson are now suing the city over the incident.

Taylor’s was among 16 workers’ comp claims the council approved last week; at a total cost of $2.6 million. Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said during a recent committee hearing that a number of his colleagues and constituents continue to raise concerns about the settlements. 

Attorney Ronald Meuser Jr., whose firm represents many cops and firefighters who file claims, has said the settlements are in the best interest of the employees and the city, since they cost less than the city would have to pay if the cases went to trial and the city had to pay for lost wages and medical expenses for life. He has estimated the city could end up paying about $34 million in workers’ comp settlements post-Floyd.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

Last month, the council approved more than $2 million in settlements, and Council Member Jason Chavez said the council had previously approved more than $18 million in settlements, which he called “egregious” before voting no. 

The city has seen a wave of workers’ comp claims filed since George Floyd was killed by police in May 2020, many of them claiming post-traumatic stress disorder.

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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.