In graphic police dashcam video of a July 2016 traffic stop in Worthington, MN, obtained and released by the ACLU of Minnesota on Thursday, a white officer can be seen kneeing and punching Anthony Promvongsa, a Laotian-American man, moments after pulling him over.
In the video, the officer—identified as Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak—can be seen running from his vehicle, gun drawn, yelling, “Get the fuck out of the car motherfucker!” within seconds of parking. “Show me your fucking hands!” he shouts before swinging open Promvongsa’s car door, violently attempting to pull him out of the driver’s seat.
“Get the fuck out of the car,” Joswiak can be heard yelling as he knees Promvongsa in the driver’s seat at least three times. After pulling Promvongsa out of his car, another officer depicted in the footage—identified by NBC News as Worthington Police Sgt. Tim Gaul—appears to cut the audio from the dashcam as Joswiak begins to punch him repeatedly.
Gaul then be seen in the video walking up and assisting Joswiak in forcing Promvongsa to the ground, handcuffing him as Joswiak pins him to the street with his knee on his neck.
(Gaul, NBC noted, teaches “use of force” classes to the Worthington Police Department and has been named in two excessive force cases which were later settled by the city; according to court papers obtained by the network, the plaintiffs in both cases, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, had their shoulders dislocated.)
According to KMSP, Promvongsa has been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (his car) and one count of fleeing an officer in a vehicle. He faces up to 17 years in prison and has plead not guilty to all charges.
According to the criminal complaint against Promvongsa obtained by NBC News, his altercation with Joswiak came after an off-duty police officer, Colby Palmersheim, who claims to have known Promvongsa from previous, undisclosed engagements, said that Promvongsa allegedly threatened him and another officer. From NBC News:
Palmersheim reported that he drove to the location of another off-duty police officer, Mark Riley, and said that he “believed Promvongsa was attempting to harm him.”
Promvongsa allegedly drove between the two off-duty officers’ cars at high speed before pulling back up to their cars and telling them that “he was going to go get his boys and come back to get them,” according to the complaint.
Riley relayed the incident to dispatch and Joswiak responded. The events shown in the video followed.
“Agent Joswiak claims Anthony refused his order to leave his car, but the video contradicts this assertion,” the ACLU of Minnesota said in a statement. “Instead it shows a textbook case of excessive force.” The group is calling for an internal investigation of Joswiak and Gaul’s behavior and is not currently representing Promvongsa in his criminal case.
The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department, and the Noble County Attorney’s Office claimed in a joint statement that the dash cam footage “shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges.”
In a statement released to the ACLU, Promvongsa, 22, claims to have been unaware of why he was pulled over by police that day:
I had no idea what was going on when I was approached and attacked by this officer. I did not even have the opportunity to take off my seatbelt before I was literally blindsided with this unnecessary attack. I immediately pulled over for the Worthington squad car and before I knew what was happening I was beat and ripped from my vehicle. I know I am not the first person to have this type of traumatic experience with law enforcement in Worthington. This type of violence with community members has to stop. This encounter was demoralizing and has left me scared of future interactions with the police.
The criminal case against Promvongsa is awaiting a trial date.
Watch the full dashcam video below: