A Minneapolis man who opened fire on police after being shot with a rubber bullet during a riot following the death of George Floyd in late May 2020 has been acquitted of attempted murder after his lawyer argued his client was acting in “self-defense.”
Jaleel Stallings, 29, a U.S. Army veteran, was acquitted of several charges related to his taking shots at members of the Minneapolis Police Department after they fired rubber bullets in his direction.
During testimony, Stallings said he fired three rounds at an unmarked white van after being hit in the chest with a non-lethal rubber bullet, according to reports.
A mug shot photo of him published online show his face swollen and bruised; reports said that he was set upon by police officers who got extremely physical and aggressive after he shot at them.
Police bodycam video also shows Stallings in the act of being arrested and handcuffed after officers reported being shot at as they passed in the van.
Stallings appears dazed and is bleeding in the bodycam video.
Eric Rice, a lawyer for Stallings, told the Associated Press his client believed that he was being attacked by other civilians, that he feared he could bleed to death so he fired at the white van as a warning before seeking cover. In the video, heavily armed officers immediately stop and exit the van after being fired up; moments later they appear to encounter Stallings and a firearm as a second suspect is seen in the background being handcuffed by several officers as well.
The police van was unmarked but was fitted with emergency lights that were not turned on at the time Stallings fired. However, police later noted that the darkened van was ahead of several standard police squad cars that did have emergency lights flashing as a “tip of the spear” strategy to try and get the rioting quelled.
Stallings, who is a truck driver by trade, fired at the officers with a legally owned weapon, according to the Minnesota Reformer.
He aimed his weapon low and ahead of the van so as to not strike anyone, the report noted. When the van stopped and officers exited yelling “Shots fired!,” he then realized they were police and dropped his weapon, lying face down on the ground as cops approached.
The incident took place five days after the initial riots broke out following Floyd’s death, though violent protests were ongoing. Included in the destruction, along with dozens of buildings and businesses torched, was the MPD’s Third Precinct station.
Stallings’ right eye socket was fractured during the arrest, according to the local outlet.
Hennepin County District Judge William Koch, in a pretrial order, was critical of MPD leaders on the ground that night.
“While the court recognizes there can be appropriate bravado to support colleagues ‘going into battle’ or to address concerns about personal safety, it is not too much to expect those in leadership positions to know the proper way to motivate and support their officers without inciting them to inappropriate behavior toward the public they serve,” he wrote in February. “How a superior expresses himself can help cool heads, or heat them up.”
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