Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher released a video on Monday of an incident in 2016, in which officers in a Minnesota jail assaulted a handcuffed black man who could be heard pleading for his life.
“The conduct captured on the video will not be tolerated under my watch,” the sheriff said.
According to KTLA, the former officer, Travis VanDeWiele, who is white, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct last month and has subsequently resigned.
VanDeWiele had been a Ramsey County Sheriff’s correctional officer since 2014 and was placed on paid administrative leave for the last two years since the incident.
The man being punched and kneed while completely restrained was 24-year-old Terrell James Johnson, who had been arrested on theft charges.
The video was filmed by an “acting or temporary” correctional sergeant on duty at the time. In the incident, VanDeWiele and four other officers removed Johnson from a squad car and sprayed him with a chemical agent. The former officer then orders Johnson to sit in the “transport chair.” As Johnson’s hips remain raised, the officer then knees in his stomach.
At one point in the video, Johnson accuses the officers of using excessive force and VanDeWiele responds, “you ain’t seen excessive force yet,” before punching Johnson four times in his torso.
Johnson then pleads in the video, “Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. I’m sorry.”
The video’s release came after a lengthy legal battle for the former officer after an employee from the sheriff’s office raised concerns about the incident, and authorities from nearby Washington county were asked to investigate.
Prosecutors from that county decided against filing felony charges and the case was then sent to Minneapolis prosecutors to review, which resulted in misdemeanor charges against VanDeWiele in February of 2017.
With the cases’ end, which was followed by an internal affairs investigation, VanDeWiele agreed to resign and Fletcher- the newly elected sheriff moved to release the video to the public.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called the actions shown in the video “torture.” Meanwhile, the County commissioner said Tuesday they’ll do whatever it takes to prevent a recurrence.