“How much expertise does the FBI have in use of force? My experience tells me very little.” This comment comes from Lt. Mike Sauro in an email concerning the six officers currently under investigation by the FBI for excessive use of force in the arrest of Derryl Jenkins last February, according to WCCO. (The entire email can be read here) Besides defending the officers as having exhibited a “controlled use of force,” Sauro explained what he would have done in the same circumstance: “strike the suspect with hands, feet and baton.”
Does the name Mike Sauro ring a bell? Back in 1991, Sauro was at the center of a misconduct case that cost the city somewhere in the area of $1 million, as summarized on the Shielded from Justice website: “After midnight on January 1, 1991, Lt. Mike Sauro was working off duty in uniform, at a club for a New Year’s Eve party, when he arrested and handcuffed Craig Mische, then a twenty-one-year-old student at the College of St. Thomas, during a rowdy event. Mische claims he was kicked and beaten by Sauro in the club’s kitchen while his hands were cuffed behind his back.”
A surprisingly sympathetic profile of Sauro from the Pioneer Press, published in 1996 and archived here, summarizes his approach to the use of force, at least back then, in plainer language than the email offers: “He will describe his approach in handling a potentially difficult suspect as ‘a Skinnerian thing” (as in B.F. Skinner, behavioral psychologist) but then allow as how sometimes, though, ‘Boom! It’s fist city.’ ” From the sound of things, his views haven’t changed very much in the ensuing 13 years; Deputy Chief Janee Harteau is quoted in the WCCO story as offering a somewhat understated response: “There certainly are components and his personal view were in the e-mail that are certainly not consistent with views of the MPD.”
According to the Associated Press, the Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Department was the site of picketing Sunday: About 50 people were looking for answers as to why 24-year-old Tyler Heilman was shot to death two months ago by a plainclothes sheriff’s deputy, Todd Waldron. Heilman was returning from a day of swimming and was reportedly wearing only swim trunks. If the AP story seems to raise more questions than it answers, well, that’s true of the case as well: Nobody really seems to know what happened. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has investigated but has yet to release the results of their investigation, according to Dan Nienaber of the Anoka Free Press, who also offers this quote from Heilman’s mother: “How do you shoot someone in a pair of swimming trunks? My son had four holes in him.”
Here is an eyewitness account of the event from Nienaber’s story: “Waldron asked for a driver’s license, Heilman told him, ‘no,’ and a wrestling match started, Hoehn said. Heilman didn’t know he was fighting a deputy until he saw a badge on Waldron’s belt. When Heilman backed off and put his hands in the air, Waldron pulled his gun and shot.”
It’s been a long time since Oct. 8, 2005, when Sandra Brown was handcuffed, shot with a taser and left barefoot in a jail cell for three hours or thereabouts, but the city of Golden Valley settled her civil rights and excessive force case on Monday, agreeing to pay out $200,000. Rochelle Olson of the Star Tribune reports that in settling the case, Golden Valley is admitting to no wrongdoing but also offers this quote from Brown’s lawyer: “$200,000 sounds like an admission of misconduct to me. Most police brutality cases are settled for a nuisance value of $2,500.”
FOX9 also has its own excessive-force story, available in video form on their site. The video originates from June 9, when a FOX9 reporter and photographer were invited to observe the Minneapolis mounted police patrol’s attempts to deal with rowdy weekend crowds in downtown Minneapolis. The FOX9 crew caught on film the arrest of one Bobby Smith, who was tased for resisting arrest, and the footage then shows an officer running over to the incapacitated man, kicking him from behind and striking his head repeatedly. FOX9 requested that a representative from the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau review the footage. “There are portions of that use of force that do cause us some concern,” the representative says.
Jeremy Olson of the Pioneer Press profiles Igor Vovkovinskiy, who attracted some attention at Obama’s heath care rally at the Target Center when he wore a T-shirt reading “World’s biggest Obama fan.” Actually, it wasn’t the T-shirt, it was Vovkovinskiy: 7 feet 8 inches. The story details the causes of Vovkovinskiy’s enormous stature, which are medical. According to Olson: “Vovkovinskiy said he wouldn’t be alive without the initial medical care the Mayo Clinic provided at no charge and the continued medical care funded by the federal Medicare program for the elderly and disabled.”
“We should institute every means possible to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used to subsidize this criminally structured organization.” That’s Michele Bachmann, of course, referring to ACORN, of course, in a letter to Barack Obama, according to Jack Sherman of Politico. the organization, in the meanwhile, will be the subject of a limited investigation by the Department of Justice, according to CNN. Hopefully such an investigation will be able to uncover the truth behind Bachmann’s past charges against ACORN, such as the organization having potentially had access to $8.5 billion in federal money or that ACORN was to be in charge of going door to door to collect data for the census. It will be nice to finally get some closure on those charges.
Starting Oct. 1, Minnesota will offer “Gold Star plates” — license plates that commemorate soldiers who were killed in action. Bob von Sternberg of the Star Tribune gives a little more information about the history of these license plates — they date to World War I, when families of the fallen would hang gold stars in their windows, and 40 states have already issued the commemorative license plates.
Twin outfielder Denard Span took a fastball to the head in Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, giving him a mild concussion. “”He took a pretty good whack,” the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III quotes manager Ron Gardenhire as saying. “A little dizzy. He said he’s a little light-headed right now.” In the meanwhile, if you were worried about the bandage on Brett Favre’s hand this weekend, fear not. He simply bent a fingernail back.