WORTHINGTON, Minn. ― The city of Worthington has agreed to pay $590,000 and make several policing reforms following a police assault that left the victim in intensive care, according to a press release issued Monday, Nov. 30, by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
ACLU-MN filed a lawsuit in October 2019 against the city, the Worthington Police Department, Police Chief Troy Appel, Officer Mark Riley and his friend, Evan Eggers, who was doing a ride-along. The complaint alleged that police used excessive force against Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez and delayed his medical treatment, violating the Fourth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
"On Jan. 12, 2019, fearful of how Worthington police treat immigrants and people of color, Rodriguez pulled over into a car dealership after spotting a police car," the press release states. "When Officer Riley put on his squad lights, Kelvin immediately walked to him with his hands up. Yet Officer Riley still dropped his weight onto Kelvin and kneed him in the back, breaking four of Kelvin’s ribs and piercing his liver and pancreas. Riley repeatedly ignored Kelvin’s pleas for medical help, which were captured on video. When Kelvin finally got medical care, his injuries were so severe, he had to be airlifted to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and was hospitalized in the ICU for five days."
“It is disgraceful that the ACLU of Minnesota has had to sue Worthington twice now to stop its law enforcement officials from targeting and brutalizing immigrants and people of color,” ACLU-MN staff attorney Ian Bratlie said. “We hope this settlement ensures that Worthington police will end their excessive use of force and instead work to protect and serve everyone.”
Under the terms of the settlement, the press release said, the city also agreed to include police officer aggression and resistance reports in cases; prohibit warrior training; require Fair and Impartial Policing training; and offer officers incentives to learn a second language. An email sent to Minneapolis TV station KSTP "by a lawyer for the city of Worthington and the League of Minnesota Cities" stated that the settlement includes "no admission of any liability by the city and all claims against the individual defendants, Troy Appel, Mark Riley, and Evan Eggers, were separately and voluntarily dismissed."
The ACLU-MN previously sued the city of Worthington after police repeatedly punched and kneed a young man who was still seat-belted into his car. The city and Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agreed to reform their use of force in that October 2018 settlement.
The latest settlement is nearly 10 times what the city paid in October 2018.
City of Worthington representatives could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday morning.