Brooklyn Park Cop Faces $500K Excessive Force Lawsuit
A Hennepin County man whose DWI arrest ended with him lying in a pool of blood on the floor inside a Twin Cities police department's headquarters has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the arresting officer, a cop who was previously involved in an excessive force complaint that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
Amos Togbeson, Jr's attorney filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Wednesday, accusing Brooklyn Park police officer Michael Wrobel of "excessive force and violation of his constitutional rights..."
Read the complaint here.
Togbeson had been arrested by Brooklyn Park police in April 2012 on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (months later, he would enter a guilty plea).
Ofc. Wrobel, in a holding area at department headquarters, was trying to mop up the urine from when Togbeson wet himself; Togbeson, then 33 years old, claims Wrobel denied him use of a restroom.
On a department recorded videotape from the holding room, obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Wrobel clearly orders Togbeson to stand in a corner and not move. Togbeson does initially move into the corner, but soon disobeys the officer's order. When Wrobel tries to restrain him, Togbeson begins screaming.
Warning a colleague in the room to "watch out, watch out," Wrobel and Togbeson then fall to the floor. In his official report, Wrobel claims he was warning the detention officer to back up "so that she did not get urine on her," and that he did not intend to use force on Togbeson to get him on the ground. Instead, Wrobel wrote, "my boots began slipping," on the urine and the two of them "ended up on the ground."
Attorney Jeff Storms, who represents Togbeson, accuses the officer of lying in the official statement.
"(Wrobel) knew he was going to take this man to the ground," Storms said in an interview Wednesday. "He turns his body, he plants his foot and he pile-drives him head-first into the ground... Mr. Togbeson's head splits open."
After the fall, a pool of blood can be seen on the video underneath Togbeson; the puddle appears to grow larger than the size of Togbeson's head.
Togbeson suffered a concussion and needed 13 stitches to close the wound on his forehead, leaving permanent injuries, Storms said.
Storms acknowledges his client did not follow Wrobel's initial command to stand in the corner, but says the video shows "an intoxicated individual stumbling around" whose actions did not warrant a take-down by the officer.
"My father is a retired police officer. I have a great affinity for police officers. I grew up with them my whole life," recalled Storms. "And for me, what I find personally offensive is the breach of public trust when an officer lies to us and they expect us to believe it."
When asked if he thought Ofc. Wrobel was lying in his account of unintentionally falling to the ground with Togbeson due to the wet floor, Storms answered: "Absolutely."
Watch an extended clip of the video here.
A department spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment for Brooklyn Park police or Wrobel, citing the ongoing litigation.
An official response is due in court in several weeks.
Wrobel has been on the Brooklyn Park police force since July 2007, according to department records. He was just named Officer of the Month in January and also has a Memo of Achievement from 2008 and a Letter of Appreciation from 2009, the department said.
Wrobel was also part of a 2010 lawsuit accusing him and the city of excessive force. That lawsuit was eventually settled by the city of Brooklyn Park in January 2012 for $52,000, paid with taxpayer money from the League of Minnesota Cities Trust.
Wrobel was then dismissed from the case.