NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-officer sentenced after assaulting man during unrest in Minneapolis after murder of George Floyd

Oct 23, 2023, 3:13 PM

Attorneys Chris Madel, left, and Fred Bruno, right, stand by the side of former Minneapolis police ...

Attorneys Chris Madel, left, and Fred Bruno, right, stand by the side of former Minneapolis police Officer Justin Stetson, who was sentenced for beating Jaleel Stallings amid the civil unrest after George Floyd's murder, at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP, Pool)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced Monday to 15 days in the county workhouse, with eligibility for electronic home monitoring, after pleading guilty to assaulting a Black man during the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd by another officer in 2020.

Justin Stetson, 35, also received two years of probation. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he must also complete an anger management course, pay about $3,000 in fines and refrain from applying for law enforcement jobs for the rest of his life, among other measures.

“The system that I believe was designed to provide justice to citizens … protected my attacker but not me,” Jaleel Stallings, 31, said in court on Monday, adding: “He brutally beat me. I offered no resistance.”

Stetson told the court that he reaffirmed his guilty plea and stood by his previously filed apology to Stallings, and that he accepts responsibility for his actions.

He was sentenced to serve his time in a workhouse, a county-run correctional facility separate from the main jail that houses offenders who have a year or less to serve.

The night of May 30, 2020, Stetson and other officers were enforcing a curfew when his group spotted four people in a parking lot. One was Stallings, an Army veteran with a permit to carry a gun. The officers opened fire with rubber bullets. One hit Stallings in the chest. Stallings then fired three shots at the officers’ unmarked van but didn’t hurt anyone. He argued that he thought civilians had attacked him, and that he fired in self-defense.

When Stallings realized they were police, he dropped his gun and lay on the ground. Stetson kicked him in the face and in the head, then punched Stallings multiple times and slammed his head into the pavement, even after Stallings obeyed Stetson’s command to place his hands behind his back, according to the complaint. A sergeant finally told him to stop. The incident was caught on police body camera video.

Stallings suffered a fracture of his eye socket, plus cuts and bruises. He was later acquitted of an attempted murder charge.

Stetson admitted in court earlier this year that he went too far when he assaulted Stallings and that his use force was unreasonable and went beyond what officers legally can do.

The city of Minneapolis agreed last year to pay Stallings $1.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that Stetson and other officers violated his constitutional rights.

___

Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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