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Judge dismisses Prescott man's lawsuit

A judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged Prescott police assaulted him last year, then destroyed video evidence of the incident.

Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles dismissed the lawsuit Nov. 3 filed by Prescott resident Jeffrey Lakela, who sought unspecified damages. Boles sided with the city in his ruling, saying Lakela failed to produce evidence of the recordings he claimed existed.

"Therefore, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact in this case," Boles said in awarding judgment to the city by dismissing the case.

In arguing his case, Lakela told Boles he believed former Prescott police employees destroyed body camera recordings of the incident as part of a coverup. Interim Prescott Police Chief Rob Funk's response to Lakela's open records request was that no such recordings existed. An attorney for the city called the allegations of a coverup "wild speculation" at an October court hearing.

Lakela issued a statement after the ruling, saying the firing of a Prescott police officer and an administrative assistant from the department was telling. That, he said, "created the circumstantial evidence that the body camera recordings which I was the subject of were deleted."

Lakela's statement reads, in part, "According to experts on police brutality, it is common practice for police departments to compile a list of minor infractions against personnel that they would like to get rid of, in order to prevent the public from learning about the much more serious infractions. This is especially true if the more serious infractions would make the police department susceptible to a law suit or in a law suit."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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