Attorney: Former MPD officer suing city, police chief to ‘clear his name’

Attorney: Former MPD officer suing city, police chief to ‘clear his name’

Attorney: Former MPD officer suing city, police chief to ‘clear his name’

An attorney for the former Minneapolis police officer who filed a lawsuit against the city and its police chief on Friday says his client is trying “to clear his name” after he “was defamed, and he suffered great damages.”

Tyler Timberlake was six months into his new job with MPD when he was ousted after body camera video of a use-of-force incident at his former law enforcement job in Fairfax County, Virginia surfaced in the Twin Cities this spring.

In the video from June 5, 2020, Timberlake can be seen using a stun gun on an unarmed man within seconds of arriving on the scene and then kneeling on him. Timberlake was charged with assault but ultimately acquitted.

Then, he was hired by MPD in January.

That use-of-force incident and Police Chief Brian O’Hara’s response to it is at the center of the defamation lawsuit filed on Friday, Timberlake’s attorney, Joe Tamburino said in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

Tamburino claims Chief Brian O’Hara was fully aware of that incident when Timberlake was hired, but fired him months later anyway.

“In November of ’22, there was a meeting, it’s called the ‘Chief’s interview,'” Tamburino explained. “Mr. Timberlake was there, he was right in front of the Chief. There were other witnesses, notes were being taken, and they talked about the incident.”

In April, as the video and knowledge of Timberlake’s hire reached the press, Chief O’Hara initially responded by saying he was “extremely concerned about what I have just learned pertaining to the hiring of this individual.”

Three months later, O’Hara admitted in a press conference that, in his first week as police chief, he sat in on Timberlake’s interview and signed off on his hire, adding, “My initial statements in April could have been more clear to indicate that I was aware of the hire but not the video. “

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“Anyone could find out about [the video,]” Tamburino retorted on Saturday.

“All you have to do is ‘Google’ Mr. Timberlake’s name. It was easy for the media to find out about it, and Mr. Timberlake disclosed it along the whole way,” he continued. “So yes, Mr. Timberlake has been defamed and his rights have been violated.”

According to the civil complaint, Timberlake is seeking financial damages from the city over claims that his reputation was harmed and that he’s struggling to find a law enforcement job after leaving his former role in Virginia.

The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office said again on Saturday that it “is reviewing the Complaint.”