A new legal unit focused on litigating police brutality cases is suing the city of Brooklyn Center and its police department over the 2019 killing of Kobe Dimock-Heisler.
Communities United Against Police Brutality on Tuesday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Dimock-Heisler’s mother, Amity Dimock, against the city, its police department and four officers present during Dimock-Heisler’s shooting death.
“We miss Kobe every day. Our beautiful son should never have lost his life at the hands of police,” Dimock said in a statement Tuesday.
Messages were left seeking comment from the city of Brooklyn Center.
Dimock-Heisler was 21 at the time of his death and had autism. He lived with his grandparents in Brooklyn Center and had grabbed a paring knife and hammer during an argument with his grandfather Erwin Heisler one day.
He had recently lost health insurance and had to go off medication and quit a treatment program. Earlier that year, Dimock-Heisler had been committed to a hospital on a psychiatric hold after cutting himself with a kitchen knife.
In interviews with investigators later, Erwin said Kobe’s demeanor changed abruptly when he found out the police were coming. Erwin said his grandson grew fearful that he would be taken away from his home and committed again. Erwin retrieved the weapons before calling 911 again to tell the dispatcher to “just forget it.”
Five officers nevertheless arrived at the home and insisted on entering to make sure everyone was OK despite Erwin asking them not to come inside.
Police body camera footage captured Kobe seated and sobbing in the living room, as the officers questioned him. He lunged for something hidden in the couch cushions. “He’s got a knife!” screamed one of the officers. Two officers shot Dimock-Heisler six times.
The officers named in the lawsuit are Brandon Akers, Steve Holt, Cody Turner and Joseph Vu.
According to the civil complaint drafted Tuesday by St. Paul attorney Paul Bosman — one of two hired by Communities United Against Police Brutality this year — Akers waved off a fifth officer who was a specialist in handling domestic calls and instead assigned Vu, a trainee, to handle Dimock-Heisler.
According to the lawsuit, officers used a Taser on Dimock-Heisler as he tried to run the first time before shooting him upon his second attempt to flee.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in the case.
The newly filed lawsuit is seeking undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages and any “award of such other and further relief as this Court may deem appropriate.”
It alleges federal excessive-force violations against Akers and Turner for shooting Dimock-Heisler, arguing that Dimock-Heisler ran from police because of their repeated and attempted use of Tasers without warning or orders to comply. The complaint further alleges state wrongful-death violations against the two officers.
The lawsuit also includes deliberate indifference allegations against Akers for leaving Dimock-Heisler in the care of a trainee despite being aware of his history of self-harm and outbursts, unlawful search violations against Holt and Vu for entering the home without Erwin Heisler’s consent, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Minnesota Human Rights Act against all defendants.
The city of Brooklyn Center is meanwhile named in the lawsuit for being liable for policies “predisposing” officers to use excessive force with Tasers, to use excessive amounts of deadly force, and to fire their weapons inappropriately when other officers fired.
Staff writer Andy Mannix contributed to this report.
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