The Hit Parade Revisited

In an age of shrinking budgets, the city of Minneapolis is spending more money than ever to settle lawsuits against the MPD

"Hagen attempted to file a complaint with the Internal Affairs division of the Minneapolis Police Department," according to one court filing by Hagen, "but was, as is almost always the case, rebuffed in that attempt."

Palmer defends his actions. "The frisking technique is what Mr. Hagen's attorney alleged to have caused the reported injury to Mr. Hagen," Palmer writes in an e-mail, noting that Hagen was "cordial and completely compliant." "I have used that technique throughout 11 and a half years on the street and Mr. Hagen is the first person to complain of injury as a result."

Even so, according to court records and his personnel file, Palmer has a history of notable incidents. In 2001 the 12-year veteran of the force was ordered to participate in "anger management" counseling after kicking his squad car hard enough to damage the vehicle. The next year he was suspended for 20 hours and again ordered into counseling for violating department policies on use of force. In that incident, while transporting three individuals in the back of his squad car, Palmer had slammed on the brakes of his squad car, causing one of the handcuffed suspects to slam into the Plexiglas shield and cut his eye. (This practice is known in cop parlance as "waffling.")

Palmer has also been involved in a couple of incidents in which suspects died. In May 1997, a demented 38-year-old homeless man named Stewart Dogan died after a physical altercation with Palmer and another officer. The cause of death was ultimately deemed to be a cocaine-induced heart attack, and both officers were exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Then in June 2000, Palmer was involved in the fatal shooting of another mentally ill person, Barbara Schneider. When officers arrived at Schneider's residence, she was brandishing a knife and screaming about Satan. There were six cops on the scene, and Palmer was one of two to fire his weapon. That shooting was ultimately ruled legitimate by department brass. However, there is a pending case in U.S. District Court regarding the Schneider incident.

In February of last year, the City Council agreed to settle the Hagen case by paying him $327,375.

 

Jessica Streich
Officer Jeffrey Boeltl was working the "party" car in the early morning hours of November 3, 2002. Such a patrol had been requested by residents of the Como neighborhood owing to the large number of college parties in the area.

Shortly before 2:00 a.m. Boeltl, who has been on the force since 1991, was dispatched to investigate a complaint about noise emanating from a tent set up near Como Avenue and the railroad tracks. Upon arriving, the officer began breaking up the Halloween party, informing people that they had to go home. Many of the revelers then retreated to a nearby house on 21st Avenue Southeast.

When Boeltl approached the house, he was met at the door by Jessica Streich, who was a guest at the party. According to Streich, she had been drinking moderately, consuming approximately four drinks in the previous four hours. The then-33-year-old pharmacist asked the officer if he had a warrant. According to the complaint subsequently filed by Streich in U.S. District Court, his response was, "I don't need one." Around this time, Boeltl had been joined by another cop, Michael Roberts.

The officers informed the partygoers, all of whom were of legal drinking age, that they needed to disperse immediately. Streich protested that many of the people had been drinking, weren't fit to drive, and intended to stay the night. Her arguments fell on deaf ears, however. The cops allegedly refused even to allow people to call cabs.

At some point during this dispute, according to her complaint, Streich was grabbed by Boeltl and Roberts and dragged down the back steps of the house. At the bottom of the steps she reached back to grab a handrail with her left hand. According to court documents, Boeltl responded by violently grabbing her right arm. Everyone heard a pop. It was immediately evident that Streich's arm had been broken. At this point Streich's sister-in-law, who was also present at the party, began screaming: "Oh my god, what happened?"

Streich was dispatched to Fairview University Medical Center. She was diagnosed with a fractured humerus, the largest bone in the arm. Streich eventually underwent surgery, during which a metal plate and screws were inserted into her arm. Her medical bills totaled between $15,000 and $20,000.

Streich sued Roberts, Boeltl, and the city of Minneapolis in U.S. District Court in January 2003. Roberts, however, was subsequently dropped as a defendant. Boeltl's personnel file shows no disciplinary history, other than a letter of caution for a driving infraction more than a decade ago. In April 2004, the city agreed to pay Streich $235,000.

 

Wayne and Danielle Long Crow, et al.
On Sunday, September 15, 2002, at least a dozen Minneapolis police officers executed a no-knock search warrant at a residence in the Phillips neighborhood. At approximately 10:00 a.m., the cops broke into the three-story house by crashing through a glass door. Most of the eight people staying at the home, all of whom were American Indian, were asleep at the time. The search warrant had been authorized in order to look for drugs.

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