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Ex-MPD officer pleads guilty to excessive use of force

Stallings poses for a mugshot with a fractured eye sockets and multiple cuts and bruises after an MPD officer assaulted him during an arrest. (Hennepin County Sherriff's Office via AP)

A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty to assaulting Jaleel Stallings just days after the murder of George Floyd.

Justin Stetson pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony third-degree assault of Jaleel Stallings.

On the night of May 30, 2020, Stetson and other officers were enforcing a curfew the city had imposed following riots after Floyd’s death. The officers, who were in an unmarked van, saw four people in a parking lot - one of them was Army veteran Jaleel Stallings.

The officers proceeded to shoot the four people with less-than-lethal rounds, prompting Stallings to return fire with a 9mm pistol that he was carrying legally. Stallings fired three rounds – which did not result in any injuries – before realizing the people firing at him were police, according to his testimony. He then dropped his firearm and got down on the ground.

Stetson proceeded to kick Stallings in the head and punch him multiple times, even though Stallings had obeyed his commands. The assault only ended when a police sergeant told Stetson to stop. The incident was captured on body cam and surveillance footage, yet the police went on to charge Stallings with attempted murder.

Stallings suffered a fracture in his eye socket and multiple cuts and bruises. He filed a federal lawsuit saying that Stetson and the other officers violated his civil rights. Ultimately Stallings was acquitted of the attempted murder charge and the city settled his case for $1.5 million.

Stetson admitted in court Wednesday that “he went too far,” and gave Stallings a written apology. Stetson must remain law-abiding during a two-year probation, and must serve 30 to 90 days of community service. He will never again work in law enforcement in Minnesota.

Stallings responded that the deal the court gave Stetson is much too lenient and fails to hold him fully accountable for his actions.

Stetson’s sentencing is set for Aug. 9.

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