Worthington man settles excessive force lawsuit with police, task force

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (KSFY) - A Worthington man has won a $60,000 settlement from the police department and drug task force following an excessive force lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota filed the lawsuit in November 2017 against the Worthington Police Department, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force and the City of Worthington on behalf of Anthony Promvongsa.

Back in July 2016, Promvongsa was pulled over by Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak, who also serves as a Worthington police officer, and Worthington Police Sergeant Tim Gaul after being accused of tailgating two off-duty drug task force agents.

The ACLU released dashcam footage from the violent altercation that followed and called for an investigation.

“I feel vindicated and relieved to put this horrendous incident behind me," Promvongsa said in a press release Wednesday. "While no amount of money can bring back a feeling of peace, this settlement shows what happened to me was wrong, and the police are making changes to ensure it never happens again.”

In addition to the payment, the City of Worthington agreed to a number of policy changes dealing with use of force including:

• Officers must document in their own reports when they witness other officers using force.
• Officers must submit forms detailing their use of force within five days of the incident.
• The report must be reviewed by a superior officer who is required to review all available video and incident reports before signing off on the use of force.
• Ending the practice of supervisors on scene approving use of force.
• Annual review of use of force reports by the chief of police.
• Disciplining any officer who is deceptive in reporting, delays reporting, or does not file a report.

Along with these new rules required by the settlement, the ACLU said police officers will receive POST-certified training on use of force, felony stops and de-escalation on an annual basis. In addition, the police department will have officers’ complete additional annual de-escalation training through PATROL (Peace Officer Accredited Training OnLine).

The police department will also make changes to the Citizen Complaint process, including making the form available for completion online and changing the deadline from 90 days to six months, as well as allowing forms to be submitted later under compelling circumstances.