U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Minnesota
(612) 664-5600
May 20, 2015

Minneapolis Police Officer Indicted for Criminal Civil Rights Violations for Off-Duty Use of Excessive Force

United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew M. Luger today announced an indictment charging MICHAEL LEWIS GRIFFIN, 40, a Minneapolis police officer, with assaulting at least four people while off-duty and after first identifying himself as a police officer, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution which protects against the unreasonable use of physical force by law enforcement officers. [1] The defendant is also charged with lying on official police reports, in civil depositions and at trial. GRIFFIN is expected to appear on May 21, 2015, before Magistrate Judge Mayeron in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Police officers cannot use their shield as a weapon against innocent civilians,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “This defendant is charged with assaulting at least four people in his capacity as an off-duty officer, filing false paperwork and lying multiple times while under oath. Minneapolis is well served by the many hard-working and honest officers of the Minneapolis Police Department and I am proud of the close working relationship between the Department and my Office to address violent crime in the city. At the same time, we will not stand for those who abuse their badge and the public’s trust.”

“The FBI will vigorously investigate allegations of corruption of public servants,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Minneapolis Division Richard T. Thornton. “No quarter will be given to those who would violate the public trust.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on May 29, 2010, GRIFFIN was with a friend outside of the Aqua Nightclub and Lounge (Aqua) on First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The defendant was off-duty and in plain clothes. GRIFFIN’s friend began arguing with a third person, I.R. The defendant displayed his badge and identified himself to I.R. as a police officer, at which point I.R. tried to walk to the Envy Nightclub about half a block away. GRIFFIN followed I.R. to the Envy Nightclub and punched him in the face until he was unconscious.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, immediately after GRIFFIN knocked I.R. unconscious, GRIFFIN approached two on-duty Minneapolis police officers standing nearby, identified himself as a police officer, and directed them to arrest I.R. GRIFFIN later wrote a police report falsely indicating that I.R. tried to attack GRIFFIN and that GRIFFIN only punched I.R. after attempting to sweep his legs out from under him. I.R., who suffered lacerations to his lip and head, was charged subsequently with assaulting a police officer. The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office later dismissed the charge against I.R.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, in a separate incident on November 5, 2011, GRIFFIN verbally confronted four men at The Loop bar on Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis. GRIFFIN, who was off-duty at the time, threatened to have the men thrown out of the bar. The defendant approached the bouncer, identified himself as a police officer, displayed his badge, and directed the bouncer to throw the four men out of the bar. The bouncer complied with GRIFFIN’s command and told the men to leave.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, GRIFFIN said he was going to call “his boys” and then followed the men out of the bar. GRIFFIN contacted his partner, Officer W.G., who was working nearby off-duty but in uniform. Officer W.G. arrived at the scene moments later in a squad car and took one of the men, M.M., into custody. As M.M. was being taken into custody, another victim, K.C., questioned where Officer W.G. was taking M.M. In response GRIFFIN grabbed K.C. from behind and threw him to the ground. After both K.C. and M.M. were in Officer W.G.’s squad car, the defendant stood outside the squad car yelling at both men.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, GRIFFIN ordered M.M. to get out of the squad car and walk toward a loading dock area. There, GRIFFIN kicked M.M. in the chest and knocked him to the ground. Another of the men, J.A., observed the assault from a nearby taxi and approached M.M. GRIFFIN responded by punching J.A. in the head from behind, knocking him unconscious. GRIFFIN then kicked J.A. in the head. M.M. ran to seek help from Officer W.G. and also called 911 to request a “real” cop. Officer W.G. also summoned dispatch for an ambulance and a supervisor. J.A. was taken to the hospital and treated for multiple lacerations on his face and neck.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, when additional Minneapolis police officers arrived at the scene, GRIFFIN made a false police report that resulted in M.M. being arrested for obstructing a police officer with force. The charges against M.M. were later dismissed by the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the defendant also indicated that J.A. instigated the original confrontation by violently pushing GRIFFIN from behind and that all four men surrounded GRIFFIN on the dance floor and threatened to “kick his ass.” GRIFFIN also falsely reported that a bouncer warned him not to go outside of the bar because the men were waiting for him.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, I.R. and the victims from the November 2011 incident filed civil law suits against GRIFFIN alleging excessive use of force. GRIFFIN lied in civil depositions taken in connection with both law suits. He testified at trial in the case related to the incident at The Loop bar and again lied under oath.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven L. Schleicher and Manda M. Sertich.

Defendant Information:

MICHAEL LEWIS GRIFFIN, 40 Plymouth, Minn.

Charges:

  • Deprivation of rights under color of law, four counts
  • Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations, two counts
  • Perjury at civil deposition, two counts
  • Perjury at civil trial, one count

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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