Minneapolis cop criticized for treatment of homeless man at Temple Israel

Categories: Police
All photos via Keane Amdahl
Police haul a homeless man away from Temple Israel.
Friday afternoon, one of our Hot Dish contributors, Keane Amdahl, was hanging out at the Spyhouse Coffee on Hennepin Avenue near Uptown when he noticed a Minneapolis police officer trying to roust a man from under an awning at nearby Temple Israel.

But the way the officer handled the situation prompted Amdahl to write a letter of complaint to MPD Chief Janeé Harteau before the evening was through.

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In an email, Amdahl says the man, who appeared to be homeless, "was trying get out of the rain by hiding under [the] awning."

"The cop took the man's boot and a crutch and threw it down to the bottom of the stairs," he writes. "He then took the man's backpack, which was attached to a dog, and threw it down the stairs which of course dragged the dog with it halfway down the stairs."

In a followup conversation, Amdahl says that after witnessing the cop toss the man's stuff, he and his friend asked the officer why he did that and who he is.

"When we confronted him and asked him for his information, he tried telling us, 'The guy told us to do that,'" Amdahl says.

We asked Amdahl if the cop, whose badge number he couldn't quite see from where he was standing, was being sarcastic.

"Oh yeah, without question," he replies. "He didn't want to give me any of his information. I don't know what his requirements are on that per se, but yeah, he kinda got all huff and puff about it and tried to be fairly intimidating."

In his email, Amdahl writes, "When I approached the officers [a female cop was also at the scene] and asked for his identification, [the male officer] became hostile and started to make threatening gestures. He said if I had a problem, I should contact the Minneapolis police chief and that he was from the 5th Precinct."

So that's exactly what Amdahl did. He wrote this letter (printed here unedited) to Chief Harteau later Friday evening:
Dear Police Chief Harteau,

I'm writing to file a formal complaint against a police officer who refused to identify himself at a scene that took place outside of the Temple Israel Synagogue just off of 24th Street and Hennepin Ave in Uptown at approximately 5:45pm.

While standing outside the Spyhouse Coffee Shop on Hennepin Ave, I observed the initial responding police officer trying to remove a pair of loiterers from the top of the Temple stairs. After one of the individual loiterers left the premises, the officer started to become more hostile to the second, who was being difficult, but not threatening. My friend and I both witnessed the officer pickup the individuals shoes and a crutch that the man needed to walk, and throw them down to the bottom of the stairs. The officer then picked the mans backpack, which was clearly tied to a dog (something that I could see from half a block away) and also throw it down the stairs thereby dragging the dog with it down several steps. Eventually several other officers arrived at the scene and they helped the man down the stairs and placed him into the back of the truck. While the man was clearly being difficult and in the wrong, the excessive treatment of the original responding officer was unwarranted, overtly aggressive, and certainly unbecoming of an officer of the Minneapolis Police Force.

When I approached the officers and asked for his identification, he became hostile and started to make threatening gestures. He said if I had a problem, I should contact the Minneapolis police chief and that he was from the 5th precinct.

As a concerned Minneapolis citizen, I am formally requesting that this issue be looked into. I would be happy to be of any assistance that I can.

Keane Amdahl
The MPD hadn't responded to the letter as of yesterday afternoon.

Amdahl says the incident ended with the homeless man being loaded into a squad car and hauled away. We contacted the MPD's public information officers seeking more information, but were told that without a specific case number, which we didn't have, the PD wouldn't be able to comment.

Amdahl's friend took a number of photos of the cops dealing with the homeless man. To see them, click to page two.

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