WORTHINGTON, Minn. - Dashcam video released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota shows what they call a "brutal attack" of an Asian man during an arrest last July in Worthington. However, the Worthington Police Department says the video is just one piece of evidence in a much larger criminal case.
The dashcam video shows Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak approaching the man's vehicle, with his gun drawn, yelling for him to "Get the f--- out of the car" and "show me your hands."
He then grabs the man, seated in the driver's seat, and attempts to pull him from the vehicle, while kneeing and punching him in the head.
After a few seconds, the audio on the video is cut, something the ACLU calls a deliberate move by the other officer on the scene.
The man, identified as 22-year-old Anthony Promvongsa, of Worthington, is then dragged from the vehicle, forced to the ground and handcuffed.
The ACLU is calling for an investigation into what they call Joswiak's use of "excessive force," stating he has not been punished for "this abhorrent treatment of Anthony."
The Worthington Police Department issued a statement, saying in part, "The video, viewed in a vacuum, shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges. ... Our agencies ask that the media and the public remain patient as the criminal case progresses accordingly."
According to criminal charges, the incident began around 9:30 a.m. on July 28, 2016 after two off-duty police officers recognized Promvongsa from previous police encounters, driving near 12th Street and 2nd Avenue.
A criminal complaint states Promvongsa was driving at a high rate of speed before he began tailgating the off-duty officer, becoming "so close" that the officer could not see the hood of Promvongsa's vehicle.
Charges state Promvongsa then attempted to pass the officer's vehicle but then swerved toward him.
The officer noted Promvongsa was making hand gestures as he continually followed his vehicle at a close distance, according to the charges.
When the officer parked his vehicle, near a second off-duty officer, Promvongsa allegedly drove at a high rate of speed between the vehicles, rolled down his window and told both to stay there, as "he was going to go get his boys and come back to get them," according to the charges.
The officer knew Promvongsa's driving privileges were revoked and called dispatch to report the incident.
Joswiak checked into Promvongsa's criminal history, saw he did not have a reinstated license and noticed a previous ticket for driving after revocation a week earlier, where it was noted Promvongsa was "confrontational" at the time of the traffic stop, according to the charges.
Joswiak searched the area where Promvongsa was last seen and saw a dark, gray Honda approaching his vehicle. Joswiak states in the charges the vehicle, driven by Promvongsa, swerved at his vehicle, forcing him to pull quickly towards the curb to avoid an accident.
Joswiak turned on his squad's emergency lights and sirens, but Promvongsa did not stop. Sgt. Tim Gaul of the Worthington Police Department came to assist Joswiak and the two stopped Promvongsa on 9th Street, between 4th and 3rd avenues.
The criminal complaint states Joswiak grabbed his weapon, approached Promvongsa's vehicle and yelled for him to get out of the car but he didn't comply. Joswiak then walked up to the driver's side door, opened it and yelled for Promvongsa to get out, but he refused a second time so Joswiak grabbed him, according to the charges.
"Joswiak delivered several knee strikes to Promvongsa in an attempt to gain control of him but Promvongsa continued to resist getting out of his vehicle," the complaint states.
Promvongsa is charged in the case with driving without a valid license, possessing a small amount of marijuana, two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon (the vehicle) and fleeing a police officer.
His case is set for trial, which has not been set yet.
The ACLU release of the incident quotes Promvongsa saying he had no idea what was happening when he was approached and attacked by the officer.
"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," he states.
The Worthington Police Department's full statement, is as follows:
The July 28, 2016 video released by ACLU is one piece of evidence in a pending criminal case. Release and discussion of evidence in pending criminal cases is limited by the data practices law and criminal court procedural rules. The video, viewed in a vacuum, shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges.
The charges in this case include two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (a motor vehicle), one count of fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, possession of a small amount of marijuana, and driving after revocation. Further details available to the public are included in the criminal complaint in this case, which is Nobles County Court File 53-CR-16-683.
Because the case is now awaiting a jury trial date, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department, and the Nobles County Attorney’s office feel it is inappropriate to comment further.
Our agencies ask that the media and the public remain patient as the criminal case progresses accordingly.
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