A Worthington, Minn., man filed an excessive force lawsuit Wednesday against the Worthington Police Department over his 2016 arrest, saying he thought he was going to die after being forcibly removed from his vehicle and repeatedly struck by an officer.
Anthony Promvongsa, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, was pulled over July 28 of last year in downtown Worthington after being accused of tailgating two off-duty officers.
A police squad car video of the arrest shows an agent with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force approach Promvongsa’s Honda Pilot SUV with his service pistol drawn while shouting obscenities. About 10 seconds after Promvongsa pulls over, the agent, Joe Joswiak, opens the Honda Pilot driver’s door and tugs at Promvongsa in an attempt to pull him from the driver’s seat. Promvongsa said later that he was still wearing his seat belt.
Joswiak immediately began striking Promvongsa, first with his knee, then with his fist and then with his elbow — nine attempted strikes in all — as he pulled Promvongsa from the Honda.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, names the Worthington Police Department, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, the City of Worthington, Joswiak, Worthington police Sgt. Tim Gaul and Nathan Grimmius, officer Dan Brouillet and Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel.
Appel was out of the office and not immediately available for comment Wednesday. He initially said the video only shows a portion of what took place.
Promvongsa pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault against the two off-duty officers he was accused of tailgating, according to the ACLU. Fifth-degree assault includes threatening to harm someone, or doing something that causes someone to fear immediate bodily harm. He also pleaded guilty to one count of driving after revocation.
ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson said the arrest is part of a larger pattern of behavior by Worthington police and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.
“Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. The brutal assault against Anthony Promvongsa violated his rights,” Nelson said in a statement.
“Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest”, http://www.startribune.com/worthington-man-files-police-brutality-suit-over-2016-arrest/457775973/