A man suing the city of St. Paul and three police officers wants the U.S. District Court to block evidence about the primary issue of the case. Which parts of the skyway are considered private space and which are considered public space?
Chris Lollie filed his federal lawsuit for $500,000 against St. Paul in November 2014 alleging excessive force, false arrest, illegal stop and seizure, battery and false imprisonment after security guards at the First National Bank Building in downtown St. Paul told him he couldn’t sit in chairs in a lounge area and called police on Jan. 31, 2014. The controversy was on whether the lounge area was in private or public property and the way theSt. Paul police officers handled the situation. They tased him and took him to jail. Lollie later posted a video on social media showing the incident, drawing national media attention the case – and the issue.
Judith Hanson, the assistant city attorney representing St. Paul and the officers, has now filed a report by the city surveyor that apparently shows what part of the skyway in that building is considered public. When Lollie was asked how he was supposed to know that, he said that the guard responded, “You just are, I’m calling the police.” Lollie’s attorney, Andrew Irlbeck, immediately sought to block the evidence; the deadline to disclose evidence and expert witnesses passed months ago.
“This ‘survey’ is the only ‘evidence’ anywhere in the record purporting to show that the subject chairs in the skyway in the (First National Bank Building) are not subject to the public easement, and the ‘survey’ was only disclosed to plaintiff, and put before the court (this week),” Irlbeck’s proposed motion says. Even so, the two officers were “exonerated” by the Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission, which determined their actions were legitimate.
U.S. District Judge Susan Rogers Nelson is presiding as the city requests to totally dismiss the lawsuit. Recently, she struck down the city’s survey report and gave Lollie’s legal team time to pursue its own expert survey. Nelson is withholding a decision for now; she expects that the case will move to trial.