Justin Stetson admits guilt in assault of Jaleel Stallings
Ellison: ‘Admission of guilt is historic… Rarely if ever do police officers plead guilty to using excessive force’
May 11, 2023
May 10, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Former Minneapolis police officer Justin Stetson admitted guilt today to a felony charge of third-degree assault and a gross misdemeanor charge of misconduct of a public officer or employee in the May 30, 2020 assault of Jaleel Stallings in Minneapolis in the aftermath of the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd. With his admission to the felony charge of assault in the third degree, Stetson is ineligible to serve as a law-enforcement officer again in Minnesota. As part of the terms of his plea, Stetson has also submitted a written apology to Mr. Stallings, which includes an acknowledgement that he participated in a harmful institutional culture of policing in the Minneapolis Police Department. That apology will be filed by the court and made public later today.
In court today, Stetson admitted that he “crossed the line, went too far” when he assaulted Mr. Stallings and that his force was “unreasonable,” “unauthorized by the law,” and “outside of the scope of [his] role as a police officer.”
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is the first law-enforcement agency to hold anyone accountable in the assault of Mr. Stallings. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued the following statement:
“Justin Stetson’s admission of guilt to the facts of a felony and a gross misdemeanor in the assault of Jaleel Stallings is historic. Rarely if ever do police officers plead guilty to using excessive force in the line of duty — and today, Stetson has admitted he did so under color of his official authority, in violation of the law. By entering these guilty pleas, Stetson can never serve as a law-enforcement officer in Minnesota again.
“My thoughts today are with Mr. Stallings, who has endured with courage and dignity an assault and other injustices that never should have happened to him or anyone. The Attorney General’s Office cannot by itself right all the wrongs Mr. Stallings has endured. We cannot undo the unjust trial he endured, and we cannot undo the unjust days he spent in jail. Nevertheless, I hope Stetson’s admission of the facts related to the assault, his apology and acknowledgment he was part of a harmful culture of policing in the Minneapolis Police Department, and his inability ever to wear a badge again serves as some measure of accountability to Mr. Stallings and to the community.
“With this plea, Minnesota has shown once again that law-enforcement personnel will be held accountable for their oath to uphold the law. Accountability is not justice, but it is an important step on the path to justice.”
As outlined in the amended complaint, then-Officer Stetson repeatedly struck Mr. Stallings over a period of nearly 30 seconds although Mr. Stallings had already surrendered, was lying prone on the ground, posed no imminent threat, and did not resist Stetson’s use of force. An expert use-of-force review concluded that Stetson’s use of force was “unreasonable, excessive, and contrary to generally accepted police practice.”
Notable terms of the plea include:
• Stetson agrees to never seek employment as a law-enforcement agent.
• Stetson will submit a written apology to Mr. Stallings, which shall include an acknowledgement of his participation in a harmful institutional culture of policing within the Minneapolis Police Department.
• Stetson must remain law-abiding on supervised probation for two years or face a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison.
• Stetson will complete 30-90 days of sentence to service and/or community service.
For a first-time offender with a presumed criminal history score of zero, like Stetson, Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a stayed sentence and probation.
The State is recommending to the court that Stetson will receive a stay of imposition for two years on the second count of misconduct of a public officer, a gross misdemeanor. A stay of imposition means that Stetson must successfully complete a two-year term of supervised probation. If Stetson violates his probation, the Court may impose a prison sentence.
The State is recommending to the court that Stetson receive a stay of adjudication for two years on the first count of third-degree assault, a felony. A stay of adjudication means that Stetson must successfully complete a two-year term of supervised probation. If Stetson violates his probation, the court can vacate the stay and convict him of third-degree felony assault, which comes with a maximum prison term of five years.
Stetson's sentencing is scheduled for August 9, 2023.
As provided for under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 8.01, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office referred review of the case to the Attorney General’s Office in the spring of 2022.