Richfield Police Officer Accused of Hitting Somali Teen is Reinstated

December 29, 2016 08:33 AM

A Richfield police officer accused of pushing and hitting a Somali teen in an incident that was caught on video and shared on social media will not be fired after all.

Officer Nate Kinsey was fired after an internal investigation into the October 2015 incident at Adams Hill Park in Richfield. On Wednesday, a neutral arbitrator reversed the city’s termination and instead issued a three-day suspension, meaning Kinsey was reinstated as a Richfield police officer.


Richfield Police Chief Jay Henthorne said they are “extremely disappointed” with the decision and said the police department does not condone Kinsey’s behavior.

“The Richfield Police Department is trying to create a culture of personal accountability and build community trust in a time where police officers are not necessarily looked at favorably,” Henthorne said in a statement. “He was given every opportunity to correct his behavior as it relates to his duties as a police officer. He simply did not change his behavior as it relates to using and documenting use of force, so the city had no other alternative except to terminate his employment.”

Henthorne said the decision “strikes to the heart” of what police officers are not supposed to do.

The city may appeal the decision.

October 2015 Incident

A lawsuit was filed in September regarding the incident, which happened Oct. 3, 2015.

According to the lawsuit, a woman reported a situation that was making her “a little uncomfortable,” saying at least 50 Somali kids were in the Adams Hill Park parking lot and that she was afraid the gathering was gang-related.

READ: Richfield Police Officer Sued in Connection to Confrontation with Somali Teen

The lawsuit said Kamal Gelle, who was 19 years old at the time, and three of his friends were driving to the park to play basketball as Kinsey was responding to the call about the gathering.

The lawsuit says Kinsey saw Gelle’s vehicle and stopped him near Vincent Avenue South and West 73rd Street. Kinsey said officers were called to the area “because of you guys,” and Gelle said he was confused and told him that he “just came here.”

While Gelle was looking for his insurance card, Kinsey got back in his squad car and told dispatch, “They’re all lying,” according to the lawsuit.

Kinsey then cited Gelle and said he didn’t want to see him “back in this city” again that night. He then asked why they were in Richfield if they lived in Minneapolis, and Gelle said he had family that lived in Richfield.

After being told they could leave, Gelle parked his car and started walking toward the basketball courts at Adams Hill Park, which required them to pass Kinsey’s squad car.

When Kinsey saw them again, he said, “I thought you weren’t coming to the park. I thought you didn’t know anything about the park.” He then said, “You guys never told the truth in your life,” and then swore at them, according to the lawsuit.

They then had an exchange about the citation, and Gelle called his brother and asked him to pick up the car because Kinsey threatened to tow it. Kinsey told Gelle to “move along,” and Gelle didn’t immediately move. 

The lawsuit says Kinsey shoved Gelle downhill with both hands and then hit Gelle “with great force” on the side of his head.

The incident was captured on video and shared on social media.

Gelle said he had such severe headaches in the following days that he went to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced in December 2015 that felony charges would not be filed against Kinsey.


Jennie Lissarrague

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