WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Recently released Information suggests that a man suing the city of Worthington, its police department and other parties may have slipped and fallen on the ice when running from law enforcement last January.
Warning: The video below contains expletives.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, however, contends the report is contrary to video and audio evidence.
In a police report filed after the Jan. 12 arrest of Kelvin F. Rodriguez, 33, and obtained by The Worthington Globe in a public data request, arresting officer Mark Riley reported that based on his belief, Rodriguez slipped on the ice and fell while running through the Scholtes Auto World car lot. Riley’s report notes that Rodriguez appeared to have gotten back up and continued running. Upon catching up with Rodriguez, Riley noted witnessing Rodriguez stand up again and put his hands in the air.
Riley’s report indicates his vision was obstructed by parked vehicles in the car dealership, and that his information is based mostly on what he could hear.
Riley’s ride-along that night, Evan Eggers — who the ACLU accused of kicking Rodriguez in the back — was interviewed by a police sergeant five days later. In the interview, Eggers, 22, corroborated Riley’s report, stating: “You could see (Rodriguez) running, see his head above the cars, and then all of a sudden it’s like he ducked down. I think that’s when he fell.”
Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel referred comment to legal counsel regarding the department's policy of interviewing ride-alongs. Legal counsel couldn't be reached prior to Friday's deadline.
The ACLU released dash cam footage it obtained of the arrest upon filing its civil lawsuit Oct. 14. The arrest, which was made prior to the police department wearing body cameras, takes place behind a line of parked vehicles.
Rodriguez was connected to an assault that occurred at The Tap earlier that night, according to police reports filed by multiple officers. Rodriguez's criminal case, in which he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, concluded Oct. 15. Because the criminal matter had resolved in court, the police reports became public.
The new information isn’t leading the ACLU, who represents Rodriguez, to change its position.
In an amended complaint, the ACLU says Riley’s report that Rodriguez “slipped on the ice and fell” implies a cause for his injuries other than the pressure of Riley’s knee to Rodriguez’s back. The ACLU calls Riley’s report contrary to live video and audio recordings of the incident, and maintains that Riley’s action, coupled with alleged delay of medical attention, caused Rodriguez four broken ribs, internal bleeding, a partially collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and injured spleen.
Rodriguez was reportedly airlifted by medical helicopter to Sioux Falls, S.D., where he spent five days in the intensive care unit.
On behalf of the defendants, defense counsel filed a response to the litigation denying “each and every thing, matter and particular” alleged in the complaint.
The defense’s answer also indicates that, upon good faith belief, Riley and Eggers performed actions that were “lawful, constitutional, proper and pursuant to probable cause.” The defense also denies “any deliberate indifference to (Rodriguez’s) medical needs.”
The defense’s answer also denies that Eggers ever had physical contact with Rodriguez.
The ACLU is requesting a jury trial seeking “reasonable” compensation related to damages, attorney fees and declaring that Rodriguez’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
The defense requests the litigation be permanently dismissed.
A pretrial conference on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 12 in St. Paul.