Worthington, MN – A man who pleaded guilty to two counts of assault after threatening police will receive a $60,000 settlement from the city in connection to his claims that police use excessive force during his arrest (video below).
"I did not even have the opportunity to take off my seatbelt before I was literally blindsided with this unnecessary attack," Anthony Promvongsa said in a statement provided by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), according to NBC News.
"I immediately pulled over for the Worthington squad car and before I knew what was happening I was beat and ripped from my vehicle,” Promvongsa continued, noting that the incident was “demoralizing” and left him “scared of future interactions with police.”
The incident occurred on July 28, 2016, when Promvongsa, 22, spotted off-duty Worthington Police Officer Colby Palmersheim, who had “prior police contacts” with him in the past, NBC News reported.
According to a police report, Promvongsa drove up to Officer Palmersheim’s vehicle at a high rate of speed from behind, and came within one to three feet of the officer’s bumper, The Globe reported.
Promvongsa continued to swerve and tailgate the officer, driving recklessly around his vehicle.
Officer Palmersheim said he “believed Promvongsa was attempting to harm him,” so he drove to the location of Worthington Police officer Mark Riley, who was also off-duty at the time, NBC News reported.
Promvongsa suddenly drove his car in between the two officers' vehicles, and told them to “stay there, as he was going to go get his boys and come back to get them,” the police report read, according to The Globe.
He then sped off.
One of the off-duty officers was aware that Promvongsa’s driver’s license had been revoked for nearly two years, and he called dispatch to report what had occurred.
Buffalo Ridge Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak heard the report and began searching for the suspect.
During the search, Promvongsa allegedly swerved at Agent Joswiak in his Honda Pilot, nearly causing a crash.
Agent Joswiak jerked his vehicle towards a curb to avoid the impending collision.
The agent and Worthington Police Sergeant Tim Gaul then initiated a pursuit, and Promvongsa pulled over a short while later.
Dashcam footage showed Agent Joswiak as he ordered Promvongsa out of his vehicle.
“Get the f--k out of the car, mother f--ker!” he yelled at the suspect as he walked towards the vehicle with his weapon drawn. “Show me your f--kin' hands!”
Agent Joswiak then opened Promvongsa’s door, holstered his weapon, and began removing the suspect from the driver’s seat.
When Promvongsa resisted, Agent Joswiak delivered several knee strikes, the video showed.
He was able to pull him partially out of the driver’s seat, but Promvongsa continued to pull away.
Agent Joswiak then delivered several additional strikes with his hand and arm, hitting Promvongsa in his head and upper body.
With Sgt. Gaul’s assistance, the suspect was ultimately taken into custody.
He was originally charged with two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a small amount of marijuana, driving with a revoked license, and fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, NBC News reported.
The ACLU called the incident a “textbook case of excessive force,” and demanded an investigation.
The ACLU also accused the Worthington Police Department, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, and the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office of having a history of police brutality and racial profiling.
“The video, viewed in a vacuum, shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges,” the departments said in a joint statement at the time.
In August of 2017, Promvongsa pleaded guilty to driving after revocation and two counts of fifth-degree assault, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, The Globe reported.
In exchange for his pleas, the charges of small marijuana possession and felony fleeing a police officer were dismissed.
In his lawsuit, Promvongsa originally sought a payout of over $500,000, WDAY reported.
Worthington City Attorney Stephanie Angolkar said the city opted to settle the suit for $60,000, in part to avoid the costs associated with a trial.
Additional terms of the settlement included providing more training for officers, revamping the police department’s use-of-force reporting, and revision of the citizen complaint process.
The agreement specifically noted that the city was not making an admission of wrongdoing or liability.
“An independent investigator found no violation of department policies, which were consistent with Minnesota law, when evaluating the use of force to arrest Promvongsa on July 28, 2016," Angolkar said.
But regardless of the reasons behind the city’s decision to settle, Promvongsa and the ACLU considered the outcome to be a victory.
"While no amount of money can bring back a feeling of peace, this settlement shows what happened to me was wrong and the police are making changes to ensure it never happens again," Promvongsa told WDAY.
You can watch dashcam footage of the officers’ traffic stop with Promvongsa in the video below: