Idrissen Brown (assaulted by cops to Minneapolis PD.) Biography – Idrissen Brown Wiki
Idrissen Brown says he was sitting in his Minneapolis apartment watching a movie with his girlfriend when he heard pounding on the door. It was about 3:20 a.m. on a Sunday in March 2016 and the couple wasn’t expecting anyone after returning home from a night out.
They opened the door and found four Minneapolis police officers who said they had answered a call from a neighbor about an internal dispute.
Brown said what happened next was still torturing her four years later.
Brown said one of the officers caught him, threw him down the stairs, and forced him into a crew car with another officer. Brown said that instead of putting him in jail, the police took him to the alley and punched him before dropping him near his mother’s house.
“When they turned away from the prison and opened the back seat and started beating me a little more, I thought I was going to die,” Brown said. “I thought it was over.”
A few hours after Brown returned home, stunned and injured, he said he called the local police station to file a formal complaint. She said that she told the woman the whole incident on the phone and was told to call her internal affairs.
Brown said he had received a letter by mail stating that his complaint would be investigated. He said that after a while he called back and left a voicemail, but never got a response and eventually gave up.
“I felt like there was nothing I could do,” he said. I felt like nobody cared.
For more on this story, connect with Lester Holt to NBC Nightly News tonight at 6:30 PM ET / 5:30 PM CT or check your local listings.
Brown’s complaint was filed with the Minneapolis Police Conduct Review Bureau, which handled complaints of civilian misconduct against law enforcement, but was never investigated, according to police documents obtained by NBC News in a joint investigation with Minneapolis member Square 11. It is labeled “query”.
The investigation office says that complaints are labeled “interrogation” when they are not in writing, when an investigator needs more information but is unable to contact the complainant, or the person is reached and refuses to cooperate.
Minneapolis police officers have been the subject of 2,034 misconduct complaints since 2016, but NBC News found that 791 additional “investigations” were carried out during this time – making up 28 percent of the total number of citizens who went to the review office to file a complaint.
“Twenty-eight percent is a very high rate,” said Susan Hutson, director of the National Law Enforcement Civil Oversight Association, a non-governmental organization working with agencies to establish and improve oversight in their departments.
“The Devil is in the Detail. Why is this happening? Are people leaving the process? Don’t they feel safe? But this is a statistically significant amount and you want to know why.”
NBC News spoke to 50 people whose complaints about Minneapolis police officers were classified as investigations. They included a variety of issues, including excessive potency, inappropriate behavior, and unwanted injections of ketamine, a sedative. The death of George Floyd on 25 May sparked an increase in investigations. Five of those interviewed by NBC News were involved in the Floyd case, and one was an issue in a protest following his death.
23 out of 50 people said they had no response. Some of the other 27 people said they were told to file a complaint in person and feared a face-to-face encounter either because it was a huge hassle or shortly after having a bad experience with the police.
Six people said they received a callback asking for clarification but never heard from the office again. Four people said they had received a letter by mail stating that the complaint would not be followed up.
Floyd’s death has focused attention on the complaint histories of the four officers present at the scene and the challenges in firing problematic cops. But the NBC News review of Minneapolis misconduct complaints suggests that the filing process is difficult and unclear and that a large number are going uninvestigated.
“I listened, and we did what we were supposed to,” Brown said. “And nothing happened.”
Andrew Hawkins, chief of staff of communications at the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, which oversees the police conduct review office, declined to comment on Brown’s case, citing privacy rules.
But he told NBC News that inquiries are typically followed up with two phone calls and a letter or an email. If the recipient does not respond, the department cannot proceed. Hawkins also said that phone calls are not treated as official complaints because complaints require a signature.
The police review office staff “clearly communicates to members of the community who call the office that they will need to file an actual complaint for it to be processed by the office,” Hawkins said.
But 18 of the 27 people who filed complaints by phone and spoke to NBC News said they didn’t recall being told about the signature requirement.
Even when a complaint is investigated, discipline is rarely administered in Minneapolis. Since 2016, there have been 2,034 misconduct complaints against officers in the Minneapolis Police Department. Of the 1,690 closed complaints, 23 officers, or 1.3 percent, were disciplined, a percentage considered low by Hutson.
Hawkins said the majority of the complaints involve lower level violations and do not require responses categorized as discipline. The responses include coaching and training.
Dave Bicking, a former member of the Civilian Review Authority, a prior iteration of the Office of Police Conduct Review, said he’s long been troubled by the police department’s oversight process.
“We have been in contact with a number of people that have filed complaints with the OPCR, and universally find out that it’s very hard to get through and actually file a complaint,” said Bicking, who is now a member of the advocacy group Communities Against Police Brutality.
A trail of neglected complaints
Civilian oversight in law enforcement has existed in some form for around 50 years. The purpose, experts say, is to prevent the police from policing themselves.
But the practice is still not widespread. Of the nearly 18,000 police departments in the United States, only about 165 have civilian oversight, according to Hutson.
“It’s a much safer space for people to come in and tell us what happened to them,” Hutson said. “People get nervous speaking to the police.”
The Minneapolis Office of Police Conduct Review employs two case investigators, two intake investigators, a body camera analyst and a legal analyst — all civilians.
Complaints against officers can be made in person, by phone, online or by mail, but for a complaint to be official, it must have a signature.
Other oversight departments vary in how a complaint is filed and investigated. The NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board allows complainants to file over the phone, but they then must do an in-person interview with an investigator. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the board is currently allowing interviews by phone. The LAPD oversight departments allow complaints to be made by phone, in person or online.
But in Houston and El Paso, complainants must fill out a sworn affidavit and sign it in front of a notary public, which Hutson says could be a disincentive to file.
The Minneapolis police review office has access to all of the police department’s systems, so investigators can obtain police reports, supplemental reports and body camera footage.
Once the investigation is complete, the director, Imani Jaafar, and the police department’s Internal Affairs commander will examine the file. It will then be analyzed by the Police Behavior Review Panel, which consists of two lieutenants and two civil servants. If the panel decides that the case is justified, it will be referred to the police chief to decide on appropriate discipline.
Among those whose complaints did not go that far was Khaled Said.
In an interview with NBC News, he said he was in a park with friends in August 2016 when a group of Minneapolis police officers hurried and pulled their guns. Said said the officers did not explain why they stopped them and eventually let them go.
“I was scared for my life,” he said. Nobody stopped me for no reason.
He said that in August 2016 he filed a personal complaint to the Hennepin County Government Center, but the inspector said there was nothing they could do as there was no evidence to him.
Latasha Kilgore said that the officers responded in November 2018 after calling the police to report her son’s middle school being attacked by a family member outside of the school during the gathering. The lip and face were cut and 16 stitches were made, but one police officer described the injuries as scratches and did not arrest the family member.
Kilgore said he went to the local police station to file a complaint but received no response. “If I were white, he would go to jail right away,” Kilgore said.
Amber Svobodny said that the officers responded to her apartment around July 2016 after a neighbor calling 911 who feared she was suicidal. Svobodny said he slept and drank on the sofa in underwear when the officers arrived.
He said the officers, all men, took care of him and made him feel uncomfortable. She said she wanted to get dressed but was told no and then taken to a psychiatric ward.
Svobodny said that after his release a few hours later, he sought his complaint, but was told to apply in person. He said that he felt very vulnerable and decided not to go after him.
Later, I told my sister, ‘This guy knows where I live,’ he made him feel particularly comfortable referring to one of the officers he said.
Even complaints containing photographic evidence were ignored. Monet Auguston worked in a bar that was often frequented by the police. He said more than 20 Minneapolis police officers arrived at the bar in December 2016 after what their episodes believed to be a holiday party.
Auguston said she noticed one of the officers was wearing an “extremely disturbing, disgusting and racist sweater.”
It featured a picture of brown-skinned men in turbans burning in a fire, as Santa Claus, flying on a sleigh, drops bombs on the men below.
Auguston snapped photos of the sweater as the officer sang karaoke. NBC News has obtained the photos and identified the officer as Cory Fitch, who has been with the department for over 20 years.
Auguston’s mom, Edie French, filed a complaint — including photos of the officer and his name in the complaint — with the Minneapolis Police Department because Auguston feared she’d be fired from her job if it got back to bar management that she filed a complaint.
French said the Minneapolis Police Department responded to her complaint saying that because French was not affected by the incident, the department would not take action.
“It’s horrifying that this happened,” French said.
Fitch could not be reached, and the police department declined to make him available. Fitch’s union did not respond to requests for comment.
The Minneapolis police review office could not comment or provide any information on any of these individuals because of the Minnesota Data Practices Act. The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to a request for comment about the incidents.
An early morning call to police
NBC News obtained the police report for the incident at Idrissen Brown’s apartment via a Freedom of Information Act Request.
The report states that the caller heard a male and female screaming at each other from inside a nearby house and was afraid it would escalate and someone would get hurt. The report is partially redacted, but says the police arrived at Brown’s apartment at 3:20 a.m. and dropped him off at his mother’s house at 3:53 a.m. He was never charged.
The officers involved were identified as Bowen Barnard, Kou Moua, Shawn Woods and Nathan Dziuk. Bowen and Moua each have eight complaints against them. All of Barnard’s complaints were closed with no discipline. Moua has two that are still open. Dziuk has had two complaints and Woods has had five with one still open.
The Minneapolis Police Department declined to comment on Brown’s allegations. A spokesperson said one of the officers, Moua, is no longer employed with the department. Barnard has been with the department for over 10 years and both Woods and Dziuk since 2013.
The four officers could not be reached. The union that represents the officers did not respond to a request for comment.
The person who called in the incident did not want to be identified, but told NBC News that they heard loud arguing and feared it could escalate into violence. The caller was not sure where the argument was coming from, but believed it was an apartment in the caller’s subdivided house or a place nearby.
The person provided their address to NBC News. It’s six houses away from Brown’s apartment building and across the street.
Brown said he is not sure why the officers came to his apartment that night. He and his girlfriend — now his wife, Lilian Plant — were up late, their lights were on and their window faced the street, so he speculated that could be the reason.
Plant said she still doesn’t understand what happened that night. She said she told the officers that she was fine and that their assistance was not needed, but they still took Brown away.
After the officers whisked him out of the house, Lilian said she frantically called family and friends asking what she should do.
“I thought he was dead,” she said. “If we’re being very honest, I did not think he was coming back.”
NBC News spoke to two of Lilian’s family members and one friend, all of whom confirmed being told about the incident at the time. Two of Brown’s relatives and three friends of the couple also confirmed being told the details of the incident at the time.
Two friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, were on the phone with Plant while Brown was with the officers. They said they came to the couple’s home a few days later and Brown had bruises and scratches on his face and body.
The Browns moved to Texas in February 2018 in part, they say, because of their harrowing run-in with Minneapolis police. Brown said he’s in therapy and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. Watching the murder of George Floyd in his home city reopened old wounds, he said.
“To this day, all I know is, I was watching the Disney movie, and I got snatched out of my house and beat up for something I did not do, and something that was not happening,” Brown said.
“I’m not too sure what their reasoning was, and still to this day, that’s what terrifies me, is I don’t know. And it leaves me terrified that it can happen again. And there’s nothing I can do.