Student sues U, police for spleen loss in riot

Police shot senior Jeffrey Arndt in the back with a beanbag gun during the April 12 hockey riot.

Koran Addo

After two surgeries to remove his spleen and correct an obstructed digestive tract, University senior Jeffrey Arndt is suing the University and both the University and Minneapolis police departments.

Arndt had the surgeries after police shot him in the back with a beanbag gun sometime during the late-night hours of the riot that followed the NCAA hockey championship April 12.

While Arndt’s lawyers Ted Dooley and Peter Nickitas said police used excessive force and violated Arndt’s constitutional rights, Minneapolis police Public Information Officer Ron Reier said police have the right to use force if they feel it is necessary.

In a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court in September, Arndt said he was walking home along University Avenue Southeast when an officer shot him in the back with a beanbag gun.

Arndt said he was not involved in the riots but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The complaint also states that the officer – whose department could not be identified because his face, name tag and badge were covered – did not tell Arndt to “stop” or “freeze” before he shot him in the back.

University police declined to comment on the active case, but Reier said police policy states that officers are under no obligation to issue a verbal order before using force.

“Cops do not have to fight fair,” he said. “The law gives (police) the right to use more force on you than you use on me.”

Dooley said he and his co-counsel will ask the jury to award damages based on Arndt’s suffering, loss of time and diminished capacities.

He said he is certain it will become obvious in court that police violated Arndt’s freedom of unreasonable searches and seizures and freedom from unreasonable application of excessive force, under the Constitution’s Fourth and 14th amendments, respectively.

“I don’t know how the jury will see it, but God’s own truth will have out in court,” Dooley said.

The University’s general counsel was unavailable for comment, and the city attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.

Associate Medical School Dean Charles Moldow said patients such as Arndt who have their spleens removed are more susceptible to infection and might require medical attention for the rest of their lives.

“The spleen acts as a filter,” he said. “An adult can live quite well without one, but they are more at risk for respiratory infections.”

Moldow added that people who have emergency splenectomies sometimes require vaccinations every five years for sicknesses such as pneumonia.

“Unfortunately, (vaccinations) work best when a person has their spleen in place, but I’m guessing that a young adult could be back in school in 10 days and be back to normal in a month to six weeks,” he said.

Dooley said his client is suing for a combination of principle and compensation – which are separated by a thin line.

“Compensation is a nice thing, but there is a heavy principle involved,” Dooley said. “In this country we tend to keep score with compensation.”