City, student settle lawsuit

by Aidan M. Anderson

The city of Minneapolis settled a civil suit Wednesday with a University student who was injured and forced to undergo an emergency splenectomy following the April 12, 2003, hockey riots.

Geology senior Jeffrey Arndt, who was shot in the back with a nonlethal beanbag by a Minneapolis police officer, received a $412,500 settlement from the city.

The City Council approved the settlement Nov. 18 in a closed meeting.

The April riots took place following the Gophers Men’s Hockey NCAA victory over New Hampshire.

Shortly after the Gophers’ 5-1 victory, revelers poured onto Fourth Street Southeast and University Avenue Southeast and overturned cars, started fires and vandalized buildings.

Minneapolis and University police clad in riot gear used tear gas and other crowd control tactics to disperse the mob.

According to Arndt’s civil complaint, he was walking to his fraternity house on University Avenue Southeast when he was shot. The complaint stated Arndt was not involved in the riots.

Ted Dooley, Arndt’s attorney, said the settlement has “made (Arndt) whole.”

“It put him through a lot of grief and trauma,” he said. “He’s in a pretty good spot to go forward.”

Minneapolis police did a good job of responding to the riots in Dinkytown and Stadium Village, but there was no danger in the area where Arndt was shot, Dooley said.

“I hope the police department learns from this one,” he said.

Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer Ron Reier said that while the police department has resumed business as usual, the events of the riot remain under internal investigation.

“We look at what we can learn from it, what could’ve and should’ve been done and what might be done in future incidents,” he said. “We look at ways we can better our police department.”

Reviewing police actions like the response to the hockey riots is part of the department’s normal procedures, and the nonlethal shooting was only one part of the events, Reier said.

The shooting was a tragic thing, said Paul Zerby, Ward 2, who represents the Minneapolis campus and surrounding area.

“The shot should not have taken place, and the injury was very serious,” he said.

The reason for the settlement was a clear violation of police policies, Zerby said.

According to the Minneapolis Police Department policy and procedure manual, the round Arndt was struck by typically is fired from a specially marked 12-gauge shotgun.

Only specially trained officers are allowed to use the shotgun, which falls between the baton and deadly force on the department’s use of force continuum.

The department’s policy also calls for suspects to be transported to a medical facility for an exam, but Dooley said friends took Arndt to the hospital.

The training that was in place wasn’t followed, officials said.

The events have led to better coordination between Minneapolis police and University police, Zerby said.

The spleen is not necessary for life but acts as a filter, destroying red blood cells and serving as a blood reservoir, according to an online encyclopedia. Individuals without a spleen can be more prone to infection.

Infection, which can kill a patient within a few hours of surgery, is the greatest risk associated with spleen removal.

Arndt has recovered well since the shooting, Dooley said.