A 25-year-old Maplewood man says he will file a lawsuit in federal court against several St. Paul police officers after he was injured while being arrested.
Anthony Clark Jr. was arrested outside a St. Paul bar on Sept. 26. His attorney, Paul Applebaum, said officers hit Clark on the head with their flashlights, causing several cuts that required staples. Skin on his face is peeling after the officers applied pepper spray, Applebaum said.
"His face looks horrendous," Applebaum said. "Skin has come off. It looks incredibly painful."
Applebaum said Clark was unarmed and that there's no reason police should have used force resulting in four long cuts on the back of his client's head.
"He wants these officers to be held accountable for what they did," he said.
According to the police incident report, an officer stopped by the Station 4 bar in Lowertown sometime after 1 a.m. He noticed two women arguing with the bartenders and bar staff. One of the workers asked the police officer to remove the two women from the bar.
Applebaum said one of the women was Clark's fiancee. According to the lawsuit, Clark was escorting his fiancee out of the bar when a police officer pushed him. Clark again tried to leave, but the officer and a few backup officers came after him. Several ended up chasing him into an alley, where they hit him with flashlights and used pepper spray on his face.
But police spokesman Andy Skoogman said Clark initiated the struggle by pushing the police officer and then raising his fists as if to punch him.
According to the police incident report, another officer arrived, and the two tried to arrest Clark using a Taser. The Taser missed, and Clark then tried to flee. The officers pursued Clark on foot to the alley, where the two of them and at least one other officer attempted to arrest him, according to the report.
Skoogman said Clark did not comply.
"He refused to calm down, he was kicking, punching," Skoogman said. "It was a violent struggle."
Skoogman confirmed that the officers hit Clark with their flashlights to subdue him and also used pepper spray.
"Our officers feared for their own safety and used force to make this arrest," he said.
Skoogman said the incident was well documented and that an administrative review found no police department policies had been violated.
But Applebaum argued that hitting someone with a metal flashlight constituted using deadly force, which in this case he said wasn't justified. He also said the amount of pepper spray used was unjustified.
"He was totally unarmed," Applebaum said. "It's just one of those things where it's incredible how things can fall apart in a second."