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Minnesota Man Files Police Brutality Lawsuit Against City of Minneapolis, Two Police Officers

— November 22, 2023

In his complaint, the Ethiopian-origin man claimed that a Minneapolis Police officer pushed him to the ground after he complained of mistreatment.

A Minnesota man has filed a lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and two of its police officers, claiming that he was assaulted and detained after asking a stranger for help jump-starting his car.

According to, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiff Said Abdullahi in federal court earlier this week. In his complaint, Abdullahi says that his car broke down near East Franklin Avenue and Cedar Avenue on April 22, 2022.

Believing that his battery may have died, Abdullahi walked a short distance searching for help. He asked another man for assistance, but the man allegedly threatened him before calling the police.

Two officers—Sergio Villegas, and Daniel Barlow—responded to the call, determining within minutes that Abdullahi posed no threat to public safety. However, Abdullahi says that the officers insulted him as they left, while the man in the other car continued to yell at him.

Both Villegas and Barlow returned to the scene, whereupon they resumed insulting and belittling Abdullahi. They did not take any action against the other man.

Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis in 2020. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Rosa Pineda. (CCA-BY-4.0).

Abdullahi eventually began filming the encounter, after which Barlow allegedly pushed him twice. When Abdullahi expressed his outrage and asked Villegas whether he could “press charges” against Barlow, Villegas responded by “violently” pushing him onto the pavement, leaving a scar.

The lawsuit states that Villegas pushed Abdullahi with “the punitive intent of causing Abdullahi to fall to the ground and sustain harm.”

“He wasn’t looking at [the officer],” said attorney Jeff Storms, who is representing Abdullahi in the lawsuit. “He didn’t see him coming, and the officer pushed him very hard.”

“The biggest thing Mr. Abdullahi said to me was, ‘I don’t want them to get away with this,’” Storms added.

Abdullahi was then arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The case was ultimately dismissed, but Abdullahi nonetheless spent three days and three nights behind bars.

“They arrested Mr. Abdullahi for no good reason, and those charges were eventually dismissed,” Storms said, “but he spent three nights in jail.”

The complaint cites the incident as yet another example of the Minneapolis Police Department’s “well-documented history” of using excessive force “in response to police criticism or otherwise lawful First Amendment conduct.”

“It just creates further distrust at a time when the Minneapolis Police Department is publicly telling us it’s working very hard to try to regain that trust,” Storms said.

Abdullahi is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.


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