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Posted: 1/13/2005 1:41:18 PM EDT
Updated: January 13th, 2005 04:12:44 PM

St. Paul, Minnesota Officer Beats 85-Year-Old Black Man

............  
CHRIS NISAN
Courtesy of The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

St. Paul, MN -- "What we are going to demand is that criminal charges be filed, that this officer be terminated, and that the Justice Department initiates an investigation," said Nathaniel Khaliq, president of the St. Paul NAACP, at a January 6 press conference called to protest the police beating of 85-year-old Leon Nins. "We demand justice -- absolute justice," he added.

Nins, a long-time resident of St. Paul, charged last week that he was beaten and sprayed with mace by St. Paul police officer Michael Lee while Nins was on his way to deliver lunch to his wife.

Around two dozen people -- including family, parishioners of Nins' church, community members, and leaders of various civil rights and religious organizations -- attended the press conference held at the Martin Luther King Center in St. Paul.

"I'm happy that some people had enough to come out and hear the truth," said Leon Nins.

"A crime was committed... This is a man. This is a human being," said Rev. Thomas Nins, Leon Nins' son. Rev. Nins, who resides in Connecticut and traveled to St. Paul to be with his father, recounted his father's military service in WWII and his more than 60 years as a respected member of the community.

Police officials, including newly appointed Chief John Harrington, have defended Lee's actions. According to an Associated Press dispatch posted on CNN's website, Harrington is quoted as saying, "I do not believe [Lee] was acting with excessive force, and I don?t have any intention of suspending him or moving him to any administrative assignment at this time."

In response to one reporter's question regarding community leaders' contacts with the police chief, Tyrone Terrill, director of the St. Paul Human Rights Department, said, "This is about more than just a conversation with the police chief. This is about justice."

On January 6, Nins, accompanied by Khaliq and family members, filed a criminal complaint against Lee with police.

In an interview January 8, Khaliq gave an update on progress of their efforts. He said that the St. Paul NAACP has also spoken with Justice Department officials in Chicago, and are demanding that they pursue criminal civil rights charges against Lee. He also said that a community meeting is planned to mobilize support.

Stopped on his way to see wife

The incident occurred at around 1:35 pm on December 27, as Nins was delivering lunch to his wife, who resides in a nursing home. "My wife has been in a nursing home for the last four years. I bring her lunch every day," said Nins.

According to Nins, it was when he was getting out of his car that Lee approached him. "He got out of an unmarked car waving his hands asking me why I had not stopped," said Nins. "When he got out of the car and started raving at me, I knew something was wrong with him."

Nins explained that he told the Lee that he did not see him, and at that point Lee "went off," throwing Nins' bag, with his wife's lunch, into the street. Nins said he protested his treatment, asking Lee, "What are you doing with my wife's food?"

It was when he spoke up, said Nins, that Lee got more irate, ordering him into the police car and handcuffing him. While Nins was handcuffed, Lee began pushing him toward the police car.

At this point, said Nins, Lee began to physically assault him. Nins said Lee pushed him into the car, hit him with a baton in the shins, slammed the car door on his legs, and sprayed him with mace. "I thought he had a hose the way he was spraying me," said Nins.

Nins was taken to jail and held for two days. St. Paul police referred charges of felony assault against Nins to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office; however, the county attorney declined to pursue the matter, citing lack of evidence as the reason. Police sent the case to the St. Paul City Attorney's Office for prosecution under lesser charges.

Police tell different story

Over the course of the last week, police officials have released a mass of information, including police reports and audiotapes, in an effort to bolster their version of events and justify Lee's actions.

Police said that Nins drove for half a mile after Lee tried to pull him over.

In a Star Tribune article, police spokesman Paul Schnell said that, according to the police report, Nins refused to show Lee his license and began swearing at Lee. Police claim that Nins was obstreperous and initiated a fight with Lee, kicking, pushing and spitting on him. It was only at this point, claims the police report, that Lee used force to restrain Nins.

Police claim that there was a teenage witness at the scene whose account backs up that of Lee. However, the existence of this witness and any related testimony has not been confirmed by any independent source.

Last Thursday, Chief Harrington released photos of Lee that show a minor abrasion to his nose and stains on his pants and tie, allegedly acquired during the arrest of Nins.

On Friday, Harrington released an audiotape recorded by Lee as he transported Nins to jail. The tape contains a verbal exchange between Lee and Nins.

"The tape confirms what Mr. Nins has said all along -- that he did not do anything to Lee," said Khaliq. Khaliq cited the fact that Lee made the recording without informing Nins as yet another violation of Nins' rights.

Nins emphatically denies Lee's version of events. "I told him, 'If I'd have seen you, I would have stopped,'" Nins said at the press conference.

"He never asked me for a license, registration, or anything," continued Nins. "I begged him [while Lee was beating him] to stop because it hurt, and I told him, 'I'm not going anyplace; I'm not going to do anything.' When a person tells you that they surrender, he should leave you alone."

"I've got a friend that is a former police officer, and even he said that?s not a usual operating procedure to make an arrest and go take pictures of yourself," said Maurice Nins, Leon Nins' nephew. "They are trying to cover up what they did to my uncle."

According to an article in the Pioneer Press, police have initiated an internal affairs investigation. In the same article, David Titus, president of the St. Paul Police Federation, said, "The bottom line is [that], if misconduct did occur, and I don't believe it did, something should and would be done."

Lee involved in earlier case

Lee has had problems with use of excessive force before. He was suspended in 1990 for one day for use of excessive force. Lee was also involved in a high-profile case in 2001 when he shot and killed Charles Craighead, a Black man who was struggling for his life with a carjacker. The grand jury returned a decision of No True Bill and did not indict Lee.

"I think he should pay for what he did to people. Something needs to happen to him," said Sherell Craighead, Charles Craighead?s daughter, in a Pioneer Press article.





Link Posted: 1/13/2005 1:45:54 PM EDT
It will never make it. Another NAACP event, nothing more.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 1:47:30 PM EDT
It'll be interesting to find out what happens in this case.  Both give very contradicting testimony.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 1:53:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sin_Bin:
It'll be interesting to find out what happens in this case.  Both give very contradicting testimony.



It will take two years for this deal to be setteled. Had similar deal in the City of Alabaster. Even had it all on video tape. The ABI and FBI investigated and cleared the officers. The NAACP was holding protests, press conferences and it was all lies. Still got them air time though.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 1:57:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:

Originally Posted By Sin_Bin:
It'll be interesting to find out what happens in this case.  Both give very contradicting testimony.



It will take two years for this deal to be setteled. Had similar deal in the City of Alabaster. Even had it all on video tape. The ABI and FBI investigated and cleared the officers. The NAACP was holding protests, press conferences and it was all lies. Still got them air time though.



Is it normal for contested charges to take two years before a resolution is reached?
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 2:00:19 PM EDT
Way too many inconsistencies to this story. That, and the fact that the NAACP is involved, leads me to believe someone is looking to turn a mole hill into a mountain....Would be interested to know what the witness saw...
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 2:00:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AR15fan:
Updated: January 13th, 2005 04:12:44 PM

Lee involved in earlier case

Lee has had problems with use of excessive force before. He was suspended in 1990 for one day for use of excessive force. Lee was also involved in a high-profile case in 2001 when he shot and killed Charles Craighead, a Black man who was struggling for his life with a carjacker. The grand jury returned a decision of No True Bill and did not indict Lee.







He shot the victim?
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 2:09:52 PM EDT
Am I reading this paragraph the right way?

Lee has had problems with use of excessive force before. He was suspended in 1990 for one day for use of excessive force. Lee was also involved in a high-profile case in 2001 when he shot and killed Charles Craighead, a Black man who was struggling for his life with a carjacker. The grand jury returned a decision of No True Bill and did not indict Lee.

So was Charles Craighead the carjacker, or was he the guy getting jacked?  

If Craighead was the carjacker, no problem, but if Craighead was the guy getting jacked, then why does this LEO still have his job???
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 2:31:58 PM EDT
The way this article is written is interesting. On the local news (KSTP) they portrayed it more in the cops favor. If you hear part of the tape I think they got a pretty good case for DC on the guy. Interesting when it comes from a different source.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 2:39:33 PM EDT
Swearing... eh that doesn't merit an arrest.  Now kicking and spitting, otoh, I think that does merit one.


And recording their conversation violated his civil rights?  Is Mn a both parties must consent or only one party must consent?  And what about "Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law..."?


I don't really know the facts of this case, but based on the NAACP's mewling in the past, I tend to think they're just out to stir up trouble.
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