Vikings player sues Minneapolis cops over arrest

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Ann Heisenfelt | AP 2014

A Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle is suing two Minneapolis police officers for allegedly violating his civil rights during an encounter in which he was stunned with a Taser and pepper sprayed at a downtown bar in 2014.

Tom Johnson was arrested for trespass and disorderly conduct in October 2014. A jury acquitted him last June. This month, he filed the civil rights lawsuit in federal court against officers Patrick McCarver and John LaLuzerne.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound African-American, went back inside Seven Steakhouse and Lounge shortly after 2 a.m. to wait for the valet to bring his car. The court complaint said Seven staff didn't usually clear people out of the bar until 2:30 a.m.

Several other people were waiting with Johnson, but he felt he was "arbitrarily singled-out" by staff, according to the complaint.

McCarver and LaLuzerne were working off-duty doing security for the bar at the time. The lawsuit claims they violated policy by entering the bar when they should've been patrolling outside.

Johnson said the two officers confronted him as he waited for the valet. According to the complaint, they pushed him, sprayed a chemical irritant in his face and stunned him with a Taser for 14 to 17 seconds.

The football player said he suffered lacerations, bruising and burns from the Taser. His arrest caused a "detrimental impact" on his ability to earn money playing professional football, according to the complaint.

The complaint cites trial transcripts saying McCarver and LaLuzerne claimed Johnson stood his ground, had his fists up and wouldn't leave the bar. But Johnson contends he didn't make aggressive movements.

Despite signing with the Vikings for another season in 2014-15, the lawsuit claims his criminal case subjected him to suspension by the NFL. Because of the criminal charges, Johnson said he didn't have contract negotiating leverage. He re-signed with the Vikings in March.

"Although his new contract could potentially pay him $7 million over three years, that amount was significantly less than his market value at the time," the complaint said.

Johnson is asking for a jury trial and relief of $75,000.

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