Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis man says he was stopped by city police and beaten unconscious last year.
Demario Booker describes his experience as torture — and the whole thing was caught on camera.
It happened on the night of Nov. 20, 2012. Booker was with friends at a bar in north Minneapolis, when he says he saw Minneapolis Police Officer John Ochs.
“He rode through the parking lot, and pointed his finger at me,” Booker said.
Booker says he was scared and jumped into the driver’s seat of his friend’s car and drove off.
Video captured on Ochs’ dash camera shows the chase went through the streets of Robbinsdale and ended near the intersection of Lake Road and Indiana Street North.
After the chase, Booker said he got out of the car, put his hands up and laid himself down on the road. That’s when Booker says police used excessive force to take him into custody.
“He started beating me, punching me, kicking me in my head and punching me in my face. I blacked out and woke up in the hospital,” Booker said.
Booker was in intensive care for more than 24 hours. He had multiple broken bones in his face, a broken nose, bruised ribs, and staples in his head in four different places.
Medical records from North Memorial Medical Center obtained by WCCO-TV spell out the officer’s version of what happened.
Officers say Booker ran for two blocks before he was tackled. They claim he was resisting arrest.
However, Booker’s attorney, Michael Padden, points out that the video shows things differently.
“[Booker] says that the reason he fled is because he was scared, and I think you can see why he was scared,” Padden said.
WCCO-TV showed the arrest video to former Washington County deputies Pat Erickson and Jesse Kurtz for their assessment.
Both said the officers did what was necessary to control Booker.
“To lay people, sometimes, it looks like this is very violent, but sometimes it’s necessary to control people that don’t want to be controlled,” Erickson said.
Still, Padden thinks the officer went too far.
“All he had to do was cuff him and put him in the squad car. Sure, he deserved to be arrested because he had fled when they tried to stop him. Now why they were trying to stop him is another matter; I’ll contend that they had no valid reason to stop him,” Padden said.
Police say Booker had a gun.
In the video, you can hear an officer say: “I thought he was reaching for a pistol…it’s his damn phone.”
The two people in the car told investigators they never saw Booker with a gun.
However, a gun was found in that same car once it was researched at an impound lot.
Booker was arrested just days after Nov. 20, 2012, for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has been in federal custody ever since.
Minneapolis police say a case was opened in connection to Booker’s arrest, and then closed.
Ochs was found to not be in violation of any department policy.