Medina resident files false arrest suit

A candidate for Mayor of the city of Medina has taken to court two Medina Police officers, a Minnesota state trooper and their supervisors — contending that he was falsely arrested and imprisoned after a traffic stop near his home on Sept. 11, 2009.

The mayoral candidate is Karl G. Hanson, who is competing with two other candidates for mayor in the Nov. 6 city elections. He and his attorney, Nathan Hansen, are naming in the lawsuit Medina Police Officers Charmane Domino and Jeremiah Jessen and Minnesota State Patrol Officer Chris Erickson, who is a certified drug recognition expert. Their supervisors are named in the lawsuit as John Doe and Mary Roe 1 through 5.

The complaint in the case is before Minnesota U.S. District Court. The complaint describes a number of issues that Hanson and his attorney have concerning the defendants and the arrests. Among the issues are unlawful arrest and imprisonment, being subjected to interrogation and field sobriety testing, being subjected to verbal abuse and being paraded in handcuffs past a large group of persons in the lobby of Methodist Hospital, where Hanson had blood drawn for drug testing. Hanson and his attorney also say that he was defamed when Medina Police released news about his arrest to the news media.

Hanson’s case has been in the works for some time. It was filed in District Court in September 2010. Most recently, attorneys for the defendants have asked the court for a motion of summary judgment.

Attorney Daniel Kurtz, who represents the defendants, explained the summary judgment request, “The defense has a much different understanding of the facts and the law than Mr. Hanson. We believe the evidence will show the officers were simply doing their job and engaged in no wrongdoing at all. We recently filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss Mr. Hanson’s case and are awaiting a decision.”

This newspaper requested comments from Hanson and his attorney. They did not comment by press time.

The complaint that Hanson and his attorney filed with the court lists in detail events during and after his arrest. Pleadings on behalf of both the plaintiff and the defendants relating to summary judgment contain additional details.

According to the defendants’ pleadings, Officer Domino stopped Hanson for driving 62 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone on Sept. 12, 2009. The traffic stop was recorded on video, but there was no audio, because Officer Domino’s wireless microphone was not working.

While waiting for Hanson to produce his driver’s license and insurance information, Officer Domino observed his physical condition and behavior and suspected that he might be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both.  She requested assistance from Officer Jessen, who arrived and also observed Hanson.

Jessen asked Hanson to exit his vehicle and then the officer administered a field sobriety test. During the test, the officer observed indicators of impairment, according to the defendants’ pleadings. Officer Jessen believed Hanson was under the influence of drugs or prescription medication.

The two Medina Police officers took Hanson to the Medina Police Station and asked for assistance from a drug recognition expert. State Patrol Officer Erickson arrived, evaluated Hanson and said he believed Hanson was under the influence of a central nervous system depressant and stimulant. After that police took Hanson to Methodist Hospital for a blood test and then to Hennepin County Jail. He was fingerprinted and booked and released after three hours.

A key issue in the case is the fact that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) did not detect evidence of drugs in Hanson’s blood sample. The defendants called in an expert on drug testing (forensic toxicologist). He said the BCA tests only for certain drugs. Many intoxicating drugs might be present in a person’s system that would not be detected by BCA tests. These include designer or synthetic drugs, some over-the counter drugs such as cough and cold medications and commonly prescribed drugs, including Ritalin and Wellbutrin.

Meanwhile, Hanson and his attorneys say he had been water skiing shortly before his arrest. It would have been dangerous for him to do this while under the influence of drugs. They contend that Hanson was detained for “disrespect of cop.”

Because the BCA found no evidence of drugs in Hanson’s blood sample, Medina Police did not charge him with driving under the influence, said Medina Police Chief Ed Belland. They did charge Hanson with speeding.

“The issue of whether there was probable cause to continue the arrest of Mr. Hanson is an important disputed issue of fact that should be tried by a jury. Summary judgment therefore is not appropriate,” Attorney Hansen said in pleadings concerning the summary judgment ruling.