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CNN guard suing Minnesota police over arrest during George Floyd protest

CNN guard suing Minnesota police over arrest during George Floyd protest
© Getty Images

A Black security guard who worked on behalf of CNN is suing two Minnesota state troopers for $1 million for arresting him while he was helping the network cover the George Floyd protests last year.

In his suit filed last Thursday in federal court in Minnesota, Michael Cooper alleges state trooper Patrick Kelly and another unidentified trooper arrested him on May 30 on allegations of breaking curfew and illegally carrying concealed firearms even though he was a security guard contracted to protect CNN journalists.

The suit points out that Cooper’s arrest came a day after police arrested Black Latino CNN reporter Omar Jimenez. That arrest, which was broadcast live, was questioned at the time because other white crews from CNN and other networks were not being detained. 

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“The selective arresting of Black media members was not coincidental,” the court filing reads. “It was intentional and racially motivated."

Cooper’s lawsuit also alleges the troopers did not arrest anyone else from the CNN crew he was supporting, all of whom were white and in the same area.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota State Patrol declined to comment on the suit. CNN also did not comment on Cooper’s suit. 

CNN is not a party to the suit because Cooper was not an employee of the network, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The suit says Cooper was attempting to guide the crew to safety after it ran into a barrage of tear gas and one of the journalists was struck by a rubber bullet. 

While trying to exit the area, Cooper reportedly approached a line of police, holding his credentials as a retired police officer and identifying himself as a member of the press. 

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The officers arrested and held him in the area before ultimately taking him to jail. Cooper was held for 20 hours before being released without charges. 

Though the state police declined to comment on the case it did provide two reports about the incident written by Kelly.

While many of the details are similar, Kelly’s report states that Cooper was alone, not with a CNN producer or a news crew when he was arrested. 

While Cooper’s suit states he was carrying press credentials, Kelly stated he found no press credentials and there were no cameras, microphones or other news equipment in the immediate area.

Cooper is asking for $500,000 in damages for being unlawfully detained and arrested by police who used excessive force and $500,000 for having his First Amendment rights violated while working as a member of the press.