A jury has acquitted Anastacio Lopez, a Minnesota Vikings fan who traveled from Texas to see his team play last December, only to wind up leaving the stadium injured and in handcuffs.
Lopez had come to see the Vikings play the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. During the game, he got drunk -- not even he contests this part -- and was met by police and stadium security, who intended to escort Lopez away from his seat. While in the bowels of the stadium, Lopez and two Minneapolis cops were in a physical confrontation, which went badly for the drunken fan.
Lopez claims he suffered "broken bones, severe brusing and pain" from the beating he received. Minneapolis Police officers Russell Cragin and Anthony Rodin said they resorted to using force against Lopez after he reached for one of their Tasers, a claim which later got Lopez charged with "attempted disarming of a police officer," a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
On Wednesday, Lopez was acquitted of that charge, according to KSTP, which published the stadium surveillance video which helped get Lopez off. In the short, grainy clip, officers are seen pitching Lopez to the ground, where they proceeded to knee him, punch him, and, according to Lopez, hit him twice with a Taser, before putting him in handcuffs.
A body camera video shows Lopez facedown, handcuffed, and with Taser prongs still apparently stuck in his back.
"Thank God for that [video] evidence," Lopez told the TV station.
The same video will feature heavily in the lawsuit Lopez filed in April against the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minnesota Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium, and its security firm. Lopez, who calls himself a "longtime fan" of the Vikings, is seeking upwards of $75,000 for his damages; he's represented in the suit by attorney Michael Nadimi, who also handled his criminal defense.
In a later body camera video, one officer tells Lopez that getting into a fight was the "last thing I wanted to do during this game."
Lopez replies: "I didn't think I was fighting, but OK."
Lopez tells KSTP he was encouraged to fight the charges and file a lawsuit by people he met in jail here, who suggested excessive police violence is common -- though catching it on camera is not.
"I met a lot of people in there who said this happens to them," Lopez says. "They told me, if you have it on video or something, you need to do something about it."
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