McFeely: Otter Tail County vet seeks $5 million, alleging excessive force in beating by sheriff's deputy
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — An Otter Tail County man is alleging a beating he suffered at the hands of a sheriff's deputy led to a serious brain injury, mental health problems and other significant physical trauma. The lawsuit says the punches resulting in the injuries were excessive force and that five other law enforcement officers present during the beating failed to intervene.
Kameron Boudin of Parkers Prairie, Minn., is seeking $5 million in damages in a lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 10, in federal court. Boudin alleges Otter Tail County sheriff's deputy Jeremias "J.J." Krupich punched Boudin several times in the face and forehead while he was lying on his back, restrained by Krupich. The incident happened Dec. 13, 2018, in Boudin's home after authorities were looking for Boudin in connection with a bar fight earlier that night, according to the suit.
Boudin is represented by noted civil rights attorney Bob Bennett, known for winning a $20 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis on behalf of the family of Justine Ruszczyk. She was shot by a Minneapolis police officer in July 2017. It was the largest settlement of a case involving a fatal police shooting nationwide, according to the Robins Kaplan law firm for which Bennett works. Bennett also secured a $3 million settlement in the fatal police shooting death of Philando Castile in 2016 in a St. Paul suburb.
The lawsuit says Boudin has suffered outbursts, as well as behavior and personality changes since the incident. All are known consequences of frontal lobe injuries, according to the suit. Boudin underwent facial trauma surgery at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo three days after his arrest to repair extensive broken bones in his head and face. The surgery left Boudin with 27 screws and seven plates in his head, the suit says.
Boudin, a disabled Marine combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said "the recent trauma on December 13, 2018 had brought memories from his prior trauma to the surface. He explained that when he closes his eyes he sees bad things happening around him," according to the suit. Boudin also says he suffers from double vision, needs around-the-clock assistance and can't work or drive.
The suit names Krupich, who is no longer employed by the sheriff's office, and Otter Tail County as defendants. It seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
"No objectively reasonable officer would have delivered multiple, extremely forceful head strikes to Boudin under these circumstances," the suit says.
Attempts to reach Krupich by phone were unsuccessful. Otter Tail County Attorney Michelle Eldien and sheriff's office spokesperson Shannon Terry declined comment, citing pending litigation.
Read the lawsuit filed against the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office here:
The suit says law enforcement was called to the Doghouse Bar in Parkers Prairie, a town of about 1,000 in southeast Otter Tail County 20 miles north of Alexandria, the night of Dec. 13, 2018, regarding a fight. When a Parkers Prairie police officer arrived at the bar, Boudin left on foot. Other officers from numerous agencies, including Krupich, arrived at the bar and went to Boudin's nearby home to locate him.
Krupich told the other officers that a suspect fleeing is "going to get you beat" and "if you're yanking away I'm going to beat you," according to the lawsuit.
The officers found Boudin partially hiding under a bed in his home. A body camera worn by Douglas County sheriff's deputy Corey Sammons captured portions of Krupich's interaction with Boudin, according to the lawsuit.
With Boudin lying on his back on the ground, Krupich straddled his torso. The suit says Boudin, surrounded by law enforcement and confined to his bedroom, said, "I can help you." Krupich told Boudin to roll over onto his stomach while Krupich was still straddling him. Boudin replied, "I can't when you're holding me down." The lawsuit says the body camera video shows Sammons also had a hold of Boudin at times.
The lawsuit says Krupich punched Boudin "a number of times in the face and forehead ... with such force to shatter Boudin's frontal sinuses and orbital walls." The suit includes illustrations and graphic descriptions of Boudin's injuries and surgery.
After the beating, the lawsuit says, a recording from Sammons' squad car captured the Douglas County deputy calling an unidentified person and saying, "Holy (expletive), dude Otter Tail does not (expletive) around, bro." Sammons then laughed.
"Why?" the other person says.
To which Sammons replies, "Dude, this kid started resisting us, right? So, we're trying to flip him over. I mean pretty much fighting him on the (expletive) ground. So, he's lying on his back, won't roll over, and tenses his hands up, tenses his face up. This (expletive) Otter Tail County deputy is on top of him and punches this dude in the face like six times as hard as he could."
The lawsuit alleges the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office asked the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for help investigating the matter, but didn't provide an accurate account of the incident, leading to Krupich not being charged.
Bennett, Boudin's lawyer, said his client and the county brought the matter to mediation last year, but the county rejected the settlement and asked Bennett to not file a lawsuit. When he wouldn't agree, Bennett said, Boudin was charged with two counts of fifth-degree assault, one count of disorderly conduct and one count of fleeing a peace officer.
"The timing shows they are retaliatory in nature," the lawsuit says.