BROOKLYN PARK, Minnesota -- The video begins innocuously as a Brooklyn Park police officer responds to a complaint of noise coming from a parked car, then returns to his squad for a warrant check.
Within minutes, it becomes indisputable footage of a cop’s fight for his life as he is repeatedly punched in the head, then placed in a chokehold.
“[Expletive] kill you!” 25-year-old Lance Carr screams as he grabs for officer Sean Hyman’s gun. His voice hoarse with fear and exhaustion, Hyman, unable to reach his radio, screams for help at least 20 times. A bewildered dispatcher, unable to hear him, asks if he is “still good” and for a status update.
Then Hyman’s gun goes off.
The chilling nine-minute video, captured on Hyman’s squad car dash camera, could have ended far differently, authorities said at a news conference Thursday, one day after Carr was convicted of first-degree assault in connection with the late-night confrontation on Nov. 29.
“Every time I watch it, I think the officer is going to die,” Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said.
Hyman responded about 12:20 a.m. to the parked car outside of townhouses in the 9600 block of Scott Lane N. He talked to Carr, learned his name, made a check and determined there was a felony warrant for his arrest.
Seconds after Hyman ordered Carr, of Brooklyn Park, out of the car to handcuff him, Carr turned and threw a punch at the officer that missed. He grabbed Hyman, and they fell to the ground. During the three-minute struggle, Carr punched, elbowed and choked the officer.
Hyman then fired his weapon “to take down the attacker,” but Carr wasn’t struck, said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen. The struggle continues as a neighbor nearby sees the altercation and begins shrieking for Carr to stop.
“We called for backup and the police are coming,” the person says in the video.
As the two officers arrive, Hyman screamed “Shoot him!” Instead they tackle Carr and used a Taser to subdue him.
Once the struggle is over, Hyman first looks for his gun. It’s a few feet away on the ground, and he picks it up, then stumbles away.
“You OK bud?” a fellow officer asks. Hyman says nothing and slowly collapses.
Enevoldsen said of the altercation that Carr’s actions were those of a man whose mind-set was “I’m going to harm you.”
“It was not an attempt to escape but an attempt to kill,” he said.
The clash with the officer came two weeks after a similar scuffle between an officer and Jamar Clark in north Minneapolis. Clark grappled with an officer on the ground outside an apartment building. The officer told his partner that Clark had his gun while it was in the holster. The second officer then shot and killed Clark in an action that the county attorney’s office decided was justified. The majority of that incident was not caught on video.
That deadly confrontation between a black man and two white officers led to protests and accusations from the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP and other activists that the Clark’s death should have led to the officers being charged.
The incident occurred in the midst of a nationwide discussion over the use of body cameras by police officers to have a video record of their interactions with the public. The Minnesota Legislature is currently debating whether such footage from the devices will be made public. Hyman was not wearing a body camera, but during the incident his department was undergoing a 60-day pilot program. As of March, all Brooklyn Park police officers were outfitted with body cameras under a $46,000 contract approved by the City Council.
‘Will not be tolerated’
After two hours of deliberation Wednesday, a jury found Carr guilty of first-degree assault in connection with the late-night confrontation.
“This was a horrendous assault on a police officer,” said County Attorney Mike Freeman. “It was quite an altercation for a long period of time. It’s fortunate that the officer was not hurt any more than he was.”
Hyman missed about two weeks of work while recovering from his injuries.
Carr’s sentencing before Hennepin County District Judge Hilary Caligiuri is scheduled for June 17, and Freeman said his office will ask for at least 10 years.
Carr’s defense attorney argued that the charge was too severe and it should only have been a fourth-degree assault.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said the video shows an “extremely violent assault” and will show people the “inherent dangers law enforcement officers face each and everyday protecting our community.”
“This violence cannot and will not be tolerated,” Stanek said. “Violence against law enforcement officers is too common.”
Copyright 2016 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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