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.
The ACLU of Minnesota had sued 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 Fourteenth Amendments.
On January 2019, fearful of how Worthington police treat immigrants and people of color, Rodriguez pulled over into a car dealership after spotting a police car. 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, S.D. and 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,” said ACLU-MN staff attorney Ian Bratlie. “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 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.
“This agreement holds the police accountable for not doing their job and not respecting me as a human being,” Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez said. “It’s good for the police to know they can’t violate other people’s rights the way police did with me. I’m proud as a Latino and immigrant of my role in this case, and I want other people to know they can do the same thing I did.”
The ACLU-MN previously sued 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.
NOTE: The attack and Kelvin’s pleas for medical help were caught on police video. (View or download the video at https://youtu.be/L9Hj75mSpsg.)
The ACLU-MN is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to defend the civil liberties of all Minnesotans. Learn more at www.aclu-mn.org.