Minnesota charges Brooklyn Center PD, Michaels Stores with discrimination, using excessive force

Updated: Sept. 25, 10:15 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights says the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Michaels Stores discriminated against a 16-year-old because he is Black.

According to an investigation by the state agency, a white Michaels store manager called the police on the teen who wanted to apply for a job at the crafts business in March 2019.

The findings of probable cause say the manager then made false allegations about the young man because of his race.

When three white Brooklyn Center police officers arrived, the state’s investigation determined that the officers used unjustified and unreasonable force, and that their body camera footage contradicted reports and testimony they gave.

The state document says two officers threw the teen to the ground, and all the officers including a sergeant, grabbed the teen’s hair, “put a knee into his back, and handcuffed him.“

As he was on the ground the teen called out ‘Don’t kill me, I want to grow up.’ To which an officer responded, ‘Maybe you should stop fighting the police,’ according to the report.

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The statement from the Human Rights department does not identify the people involved, beyond initials. A spokesperson said no one from the agency will comment.

The state is seeking a settlement agreement with the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Michaels Stores, as well as monetary relief for the then 16-year-old.

“We take any claim of discrimination very seriously and work every day to make Michaels as inclusive and diverse as possible,” Michaels spokesperson James Flair said in an email. “In this instance, we disagree with the findings based on the facts of the incident and plan to appeal the decision.”

The city of Brooklyn Center responded in a statement released Friday that it is “aware of the MDHR determination.” The statement also listed efforts the city is making “to avoid these types of situations.” The measures include online bias training for officers and a tracking program “to track and review use of force by type and officer.” In the statement, the city said crisis intervention training for its police officers is a priority.

Reporter Nina Moini contributed to this story.