ACLU calls for investigation of law enforcement Agent Joe Joswiak 

Contact: Jana Kooren, jkooren@aclu-mn.org, 651-529-1693 or 651-485-5925 (cell)

St. Paul, Minn – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota released footage from a 2016 stop of Anthony Promvongsa in Worthington, Minnesota. The video footage shows Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak using excessive force against Promvongsa.

Within seconds of Promvongsa’s vehicle being stopped Agent Joswiak approaches the vehicle with a weapon drawn and starts screaming at Promvongsa to “Get the fuck out of the car mother fucker, show me your hands.” He then immediately yanks open the door and begins violently pulling Promvongsa from the vehicle before Promvongsa can even remove his seat belt.  Joswiak begins to knee and punch Promvongsa while Promvongsa is still in the vehicle. After a couple of seconds the audio is intentionally shut off by another officer on the scene, Sergeant Gaul, who himself has had two prior civil lawsuits filed against him for use of excessive force.

The entire incident from when the vehicle is pulled over to when Promvongsa is under arrest and in the backseat of the vehicle handcuffed is less than two minutes. Promvongsa was not given proper time to obey the officer’s orders before excessive force was used against him.

“Agent Joswiak’s use of force against Anthony Promvongsa is disturbing and completely unnecessary. We are calling for an investigation of Agent Joswiak’s behavior and for him to be held accountable for his brutal attack on Anthony Promvongsa, up to and including termination and prosecution,” stated Teresa Nelson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Minnesota. “Thus far Agent Joswiak has received no punishment for this abhorrent treatment of Anthony. This sends a message that the department condones the officer’s behavior, which it should not.”

This whole incident began when off-duty police officers accused Promvongsa of driving recklessly. The prosecutor upped the reckless driving charges to assault with a deadly weapon—his car. Promvongsa denies any conduct that would warrant the type of brutal attack that occurred here.

“I had no idea what was going on when I was approached and attacked by this officer,” stated Anthony Promvongsa. “I did not even have the opportunity to take off my seatbelt before I was literally blindsided with this unnecessary attack. I immediately pulled over for the Worthington squad car and before I knew what was happening I was beat and ripped from my vehicle. I know I am not the first person to have this type of traumatic experience with law enforcement in Worthington. This type of violence with community members has to stop. This encounter was demoralizing and has left me scared of future interactions with the police.”

Promvongsa’s case is to be set for trial, although no trial date has currently been given.

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