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POLICE ACTION LEAVES AMERICAN INDIAN DEAD

category north america / mexico | indigenous struggles | other libertarian press author Tuesday November 01, 2005 05:41author by Oread Daily Report this post to the editors

More than 30 people gathered at Duluth City Hall last Friday afternoon to call for an independent investigation into the recent death of an American Indian, and to protest police brutality.

POLICE ACTION LEAVES AMERICAN INDIAN DEAD - Oread Daily

More than 30 people gathered at Duluth City Hall last Friday afternoon to call for an independent investigation into the recent death of an American Indian, and to protest police brutality.

David Croud, 29, died Oct. 18, six days after a confrontation with police in downtown Duluth.

"I believe in my heart it wouldn't have happened if he wasn't Native," participant Jessica Redman told the News Tribune. "My gut tells me there was police brutality," said Redman, who also questioned the action of emergency room workers at St. Mary's Medical Center who medicated Croud, who police say was intoxicated.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating Croud's death at the request of Duluth Police Chief Roger Waller. But some doubt that the BCA's investigation will be unbiased.

"They are an arm of the police," said Adam Ritscher, who helped organize Friday's vigil. "We do not think it's realistic for police to investigate police."

A local weekly, The Reader, has run an investigative report. It reads in part:

Mike Mancini, owner of Downtown Computer, witnessed the October 12 Duluth Police Department detention of David Croud outside his business at 203 E. Superior St.

Mancini and two of his employees had stepped onto the sidewalk in front of his storefront at approximately 6 p.m. Mancini didn’t notice Croud until the policemen were already confronting him.

Mancini saw the officers (one uniformed, one plainclothes) approach Croud. “They had him pinned face first against the sandstone wall of our building,” he told the Reader. Croud was non-combative while the officers repeatedly thrust him against the wall while attempting to handcuff him. At this point, Mancini asked what “this guy had been doing” and an officer replied that he was causing trouble at the Fond du Luth Casino. Unable to secure the handcuffs, the officers pulled him back from the wall, “then they flung him to the sidewalk, putting all their weight on him, their knees to his back,” finally succeeding at cuffing him. When they pulled him back up, one side of his face was a mass of blood, leaving a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

As he stood up and was being walked to the squad car double-parked nearby, he began complaining about losing his hat, Mancini says. This seemed to agitate him. An officer said they could get his hat. As they tried to put Croud into the squad car, he stopped cooperating, basically he just tried to stand still and would not bend over to get in the back seat. The officers repeatedly and loudly ordered him to stop resisting.

At this time a woman walked up to the rear bumper of the squad. As the officers seemed to know her and did not ask her to step back, Mancini believes she was also a police officer. Mancini noted that the woman remained there and was, in his opinion, in an ideal position to observe the remainder of the incident.

The two officers succeeded in getting Croud into of the squad car and closed the door.

Croud now seemed to be safely restrained. One of the officers then ran forward to another squad car parked three or four car lengths closer to Second Avenue East. The officer reached into the back seat of the car, picked up an item, and carried it back. Mancini could not see what the item was, but heard someone say, “Oh, they’re going to taser him.” The officer reached into the back of the car toward Croud, inserting his upper body and both arms into the car for approximately ten seconds. Mancini observed a blue flash. Mancini is not positive that the blue flash was from a taser. Daniel Keinbaum, an employee of Downtown Computer, said he heard an electronic sound twice, once faintly then louder. The officers then drove Croud away. Only two officers were involved in the detention of Croud.

The longer he thought about it, the more concerned Mancini became over the nature of this incident. Mancini has witnessed dozens of arrests in downtown Duluth over the years and he’s never seen one with this level of police aggression. At the time, Mancini did not know whether Croud was seriously injured. Mancini was just bothered by how violent the event was.

At approximately 8 p.m., Mancini called 911 to report an aggressive incident with a police arrest. The 911 operator referred him to another officer who promptly arranged for the police to go to Downtown Computer, tape it off, and take a variety of pictures of the scene.

A Duluth police officer and Jerome Koneczny of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewed Mancini that evening. Both officers were very polite, professional, and thorough. Mancini described the incident in detail and at length.

Contrary to the Duluth News Tribune editorial lamenting the lack of a camera in this incident, the Reader says Fond du Luth Casino has a high quality security camera at the front corner of their building aimed down the sidewalk toward the Croud incident, which occurred of approximately 160-200 feet away. As it was still light outside, careful analyses of the data should help confirm the truth. The Reader has learned that MBCA’s Koneczny has viewed tape.

Many of Duluth’s American Indians are incensed by Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson’s unequivocal support for the officers involved; feeling Bergson’s statement suggests that the outcome of the investigation has been pre-judged by city officials. Bergson previously was a long term police detective, and served as Mayor of Superior. Croud was a member of the White Earth Chippewa tribe.

Sky5 Max reports, the city's American Indian Commission spent two hours of its monthly meeting talking about the incident. Some commission members said they are concerned. "(Croud) was a lot better before police arrived," commission member Mike Sayers said, questioning the officers' decision to take Croud into custody.

Susan Harris, first Assistant Washington County Attorney, says that the timing of a charging decision will depend on how long it takes to get the results of the autopsy. "Once we have everything we need to make a decision, assuming no further investigation is needed by the BCA, we try to get things out in less than 30 days," she said.

However, Duluth American Indian Commission member Mike Sayers was surprised to learn that it could take eight weeks for the medical examiner's final report. "Eight weeks seems like a long time, but we'll just wait and see what happens," said Sayers, who is on a three-member subcommittee that American Indian Commission Chairman Robert Powless created to examine the Croud incident,to the News Tribune.

The Croud case led to the recent creation of an online petition to the BCA and Duluth Police Department to "stop the continual abuse, racism and violence against Native Americans from police and other authorities.” The petition created by Tamra Brennan of NDN News in New Mexico, states, "The continual racism and violence against Native Americans within the police departments all over the country must come to a end," her petition reads. "These officers should be immediately and permanently removed from duty and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"There has been a crime committed," Joe Croud, David Croud's uncle told Sky5Max,, "You didn't deal with David in a right manner. Your police department took my nephew." Sources: Reader Weekly (Duluth), Sky5 Max (Minniapolis), Dultuth News Tribune, News6 (Duluth)

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