Minneapolis officer accused of assault, falsifying reports

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who allegedly identified himself as an officer and assaulted at least four people while off-duty, then filed false reports, has been charged with federal civil rights violations and other counts in an indictment announced Wednesday.

Michael Lewis Griffin, 40, is charged with nine counts, including allegations that he deprived a person of his rights by using excessive force, falsified paperwork and perjury.

"Police officers cannot use their shield as a weapon against innocent civilians," U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said in a statement. "We will not stand for those who abuse their badge and the public's trust."

It wasn't immediately clear whether Griffin had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. The head of the Minneapolis police union didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the case.

Griffin, a patrol officer, has been the subject of 22 internal affairs investigations stemming from complaints about his behavior, the Star Tribune reported. Police Chief Janee Harteau told KARE-TV that Griffin is on paid administrative leave.

The incidents cited in the indictment date back to 2010 and 2011.

In the 2010 case, the indictment says Griffin was outside a Minneapolis nightclub when his friend starting arguing with another man. Griffin was off-duty and in plain clothes but identified himself as an officer.

The other man tried to walk away, but Griffin followed and punched him in the face until he lost consciousness, according to the indictment and court documents. Griffin then told other officers to arrest the man and filed a report saying he had been attacked.

The indictment also says that in 2011, Griffin told a bouncer at another Minneapolis bar that he was an officer and he had four men thrown out of the club. Griffin followed the men outside and called his called his partner to have them arrested.

While outside, Griffin threw one man to the ground, ordered another to walk toward a loading dock area where Griffin kicked him in the chest, then punched and kicked another man in the head, the indictment says.

Griffin allegedly lied when other officers arrived.

The victims in both incidents sued Griffin, and the indictment says he lied in both civil cases. The Star Tribune reported that the cases led to settlements and a court verdict that have cost Minneapolis a total of $410,000.

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