Minneapolis city attorney subpoenas reporters in police brutality suit

Hundreds of protesters gather in south Minneapolis.
Hundreds of protesters gather in south Minneapolis near the city Police Department's 3rd Precinct in May 2020. Police deploy tear gas, stun grenades and deterrent rounds from the roof.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

The Minneapolis City Attorney's office has served subpoenas on three Twin Cities journalists who covered the protests and riots that followed the murder of George Floyd.

The subpoenas are part of the city's defense of a lawsuit that freelance photographer Linda Tirado filed in 2020 after a police projectile partially blinded her.

Minnesota Reformer reporter Max Nesterak and Andy Mannix of the Star Tribune received subpoenas along with Jared Goyette, who was a freelance journalist at the time and now works for Fox 9.

The documents demand that all three journalists testify at a deposition and bring "videos, photographs, recordings, emails, texts and documents" related to the unrest.

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Police projectiles also struck Nesterak, Mannix and Goyette, but they did not sustain severe injuries.

Protesters block the street in front of MPD's 3rd precinct.
Protesters block Minnehaha Avenue in front of Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct, where police officers hold alleyway on May 27, 2020.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2020

In a statement provided to MPR News, the city says the reporters served were "named by the plaintiff as persons with information. Therefore, they are being deposed to determine what information they have regarding her lawsuit.”

In its own statement, the Minnesota Reformer vowed to “protect our newsgathering rights” from the city’s "ham-handed effort to intimidate journalists with burdensome legal action."

In an email to MPR News, Star Tribune senior managing editor Suki Dardarian said that the newspaper also expects to challenge the subpoena that Mannix received.

Tirado, of Nashville, Tenn., came to Minneapolis to document the unrest and was attempting to photograph a line of police officers on May 29, 2020, near the 3rd Precinct police station.

Linda Tirado sues the city of Minneapolis
Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, has sued the city of Minneapolis, its police chief and state officials, after being hit by a foam bullet during protests on May 29, 2020.
Courtesy of Linda Tirado

In her federal lawsuit, Tirado said police shot her with a paintball-type round, marking her backpack with green dye before hitting her in the face with a foam projectile. The round permanently damaged her left eye.

Tirado is one of three people whom police partially blinded that week. Her lawsuit is still pending, as is litigation brought by Ethan Marks, who lost an eye to a similar projectile the day prior while assisting with a neighborhood cleanup effort near the looted Target store across Lake Street.

Soren Stevenson, 27, reached a $2.4 million settlement with the city after an officer shot him in the eye as he was protesting near University Avenue and Interstate 35W on May 31, 2020. At a news conference this week, Stevenson said he believes the officer deliberately aimed a 40mm foam round launcher at his face.