Settlement reached over excessive force lawsuit

by Nickalas Tabbert

The city of St. Paul has reached a settlement for almost $250,000 with Anthony Michael Clark Jr. over claims police used excessive force against him.

Clark, of Maplewood, sued after he suffered injuries in a September 2010 incident in the alley behind Station 4, a bar in St. Paul's Lowertown, the Pioneer Press said.

"Mr. Clark is very pleased with the settlement and wants to move on with his life and his family," said his attorney Paul Applebaum, who declined to say more because of a confidentiality agreement.

The City Council approved the deal April 18.

The injuries cited in the suit included a skull fracture, four large gashes on the back of his head requiring 21 staples to close and facial burns caused by officers' chemical spray, the Press said.

The suit said Clark had been at the bar with his fiancee and family members to see a band featuring Clark's brother.  Officers had come into the bar to investigate a claim that someone had thrown a glass of water at another patron. They were questioning Clark's fiancee.

Clark approached the woman and the officers, "placed his hand on his fiancee's elbow and stated that he and his fiancee would leave since the night was over," the suit said. "Mr. Clark was not drunk or confrontational when he spoke with officers."

Clark said one officer shoved him, while another fired his stun gun and missed and a third officer charged at him.

Believing the situation had become dangerous for him, he turned and ran north up Sibley Street and then east on Fourth Street, the complaint said.

Clark was unfamiliar with downtown St. Paul. The suit said that because he feared he might get lost, he stopped and began walking through the alley back to Station 4.

The officers found him there. Clark claimed that one clubbed him in the head with his flashlight, and he fell "face down amongst dead pigeons and dirty diapers."

He also claimed that officers punched, kicked and hammered his head with their flashlights and that blood from his head wounds formed a pool under his face and then a channel that ran into the alley's rain gutter.

A St. Paul police spokesman told the Pioneer Press after the incident that an officer entered the bar at 1:30 a.m. and saw two women arguing with the bartender.

When Clark's fiancee refused to leave and another officer took her arm to escort her out, Clark pushed and swore at him, the spokesman said.

Clark was arrested and charged in the incident. He was acquitted of obstructing the legal process but convicted of fleeing a police officer.