It was about 1 a.m. March 21, 2009 on Lake Street in Minneapolis and two patrolling Minneapolis police officers allege they saw someone they thought might be a “street level prostitute” (as distinct from the skyway layer?) because she was, in their view, dressed like one, and it was at a time and place where such a sighting would not be out of the ordinary.
They stopped to question her and the police say a man, Antoine Lee, several feet away, watched. The police felt his presence, his hands in his pockets, and other factors in those moments sufficient to be suspicious and/or concerned about him.
The police say they demanded that he take his hands from his pockets. The police say that he refused (saying, “I don’t have to show you shit.”). They forcibly removed his hands from his pockets. He resisted, police claim. They wrestled with him, cuffed him, and roughed him up. An ambulance arrived, took him to the hospital for treatment, and he was not arrested or charged with anything.
U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank (D. Minn.) awarded Mr. Lee partial summary judgment. Judge Frank did not use Mr. Lee’s street level language to remind law enforcement of the limits of their authority but the message, at the end of the day, was the same.
Even when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants, the Court concludes that no reasonable juror could find that Defendants’ actions in removing Plaintiff’s hand from his pocket were lawful under Terry.
On the other hand, Judge Frank concluded that Mr. Lee did not have a right to resist an unlawful arrest. ”Thus, damages are unlikely to be awarded as a result of any force used after Plaintiff resisted.”
In other words, one might speculate that the cops’ street level response to Mr. Lee’s articulation of criminal procedure constitutional law is likely to be, “Yeah. You’re right. And we don’t have to pay YOU sh*t.”
(Except for Mr. Lee’s attorneys’ fees, of course, which could be substantial and presumably will give a meaningful incentive to the City so that its police officers toe the constitutional line. Mr. Lee is represented by Joshua R. Williams and A.L. Brown.)
(And except for the fact that Judge Frank’s ruling did not find facts — that is, the Court could not and did not agree with the police officer’s hotly disputed version of the facts. The Court held that, even if the police officers’ version of the facts were true, they STILL violated Mr. Lee’s constitutional rights. Mr. Lee, therefore, will be able to present HIS version of the facts to a jury, which are dramatically different from the officers’ version.)