Hennepin County deputies sued by man claiming wrongful detention, threats

A Minnesota man is suing Hennepin County, claiming he was wrongly detained and threatened, which led to him suffering psychological trauma and distress.

The plaintiff, Anthony Watson, claims he was with his fiancé and her mother on April 8, 2020, when the car his fiancé was driving through downtown Minneapolis was pulled over by an unmarked black SUV, the lawsuit alleges.

A group of law enforcement officials, dressed in all black, approached the car Watson was in and identified themselves as sheriff’s deputies.

When asked by Watson’s fiancé why they had been pulled over, the lawsuit claims one of the deputies responded, "You look like you were having too much fun."

Deputies then grabbed the phone from Watson’s hand as he was trying to record the stop, removed him from the car and placed him in handcuffs, the court papers allege. Deputies searched Watson and found his identification which had his full name and date of birth.

Watson told deputies he was on probation and if there was a warrant for his arrest his parole officer would have informed him.

"You have the wrong guy," Watson claims he pleaded with the deputies. The lawsuit says the deputies responded by saying, "Shut up. You’ll find out when you go to jail."

Watson was then taken to the Hennepin County jail.

When his fiancé arrived at the jail asking on what charges Watson had been arrested, she was told five counts of domestic assault and there would be no bond.

While this was happening Watson remained in the sallyport. Deputies kept walking him up to the intake area, then bringing him back to the squad car.

While in the sallyport, deputies realized they had the wrong Anthony Watson in custody. The plaintiff was 28 at the time and white. The Anthony Watson deputies were looking for was 45, Black, and had a different middle name.

After being detained for around three hours, the arresting deputies drove Watson away from the jail. The lawsuit claims they threatened him with physical violence during that time.

After making contact with Watson’s girlfriend to pick up Watson the deputies let Watson go. Allegedly saying, "If you know anyone with guns or drugs, I’ll pay you from my personal bank account for that information."

The lawsuit goes on to claim Watson felt he was being threatened when he went to the Sheriff’s Office to get a copy of the incident report. 

The lawsuit names Hennepin County and eight sheriff's deputies as defendants. Watson is claiming the sheriff's deputies violated his civil rights, including his fourth amendment rights, as well as negligence under state law. 

He is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as attorney's fees and costs.