The Minnesota Vikings lost 17-15 to the Dallas Cowboys on December 1, 2016.
Minnesota's sixth defeat in seven games left the team, once 5-0, with a 6-6 record and a diminishing chance of even making the playoffs.
Aside from the game, Minnesota might also have lost a fan that day. At the very least, one Vikings fan -- from Texas, no less -- had a decidedly crappy "game-day experience" at U.S. Bank Stadium, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday.
Anastacio Lopez of Midlands, Texas, is suing the NFL franchise, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the Minneapolis Police Department, and a private security agency, among others, for a "violent" arrest after authorities decided to throw him out of the game.
The likely cause of Lopez's removal is acknowledged in his own complaint: By the time a cop came to pull the fan from his seat, Lopez was "somewhat disoriented and walked rather slowly, occasionally slightly losing direction or his balance," symptoms attributed to Lopez "having consumed alcoholic beverages during the football game."
Lopez's suit says he was compliant and followed orders from Minneapolis police officers, who walked him around the stadium concourse and into a "security processing center" inside the stadium. According to the complaint, Lopez continually turned his head to speak with Officer Anthony Rodin, a city cop who was escorting him.
The complaint alleges one of these non-threatening attempts at communication proved the last straw for Rodin:
"As [Lopez] kept trying to speak to Rodin, Rodin forcibly pushed Plaintiff into an electric golf cart vehicle parked in the corridor, causing [Lopez] to nearly lose his balance once again. Immediately after [Lopez] bounced off the electric vehicle, Rodin suddenly and violently grabbed Plaintiff with both hands and forcefully threw him head-first into a concrete wall, knocking over dozens of signs that had been stacked up against the wall and causing [Lopez] to fall to the floor in a face-down position. Immediately after [Lopez] fell face-down on the hard concrete floor, [Minneapolis PD Officer Russel] Cragin rushed over and used his arms to place [Lopez] into a headlock, forcibly holding [Lopez's] head face down to the floor. At the same time as Cragin placed [Lopez] into a headlock, Defendant Rodin jumped on top of [Lopez's] legs and torso, using his weight and strength to pin [Lopez] to the ground."
Thus immobilized, Lopez says he suffered "at least four forceful blows" to the abdomen from Rodin's knee. Rodin also punched Lopez four times in the head, the complaint alleges. A stadium security staffer arrived and hit Lopez with a taser, twice, at which point Lopez "raised both of his hands in a surrender position."
That security worker, Andrew Hodynsky, is accused of "directing passing stadium staff members not to watch the violent scene."
Lopez was eventually booked into Hennepin County Jail, where he was charged with "attempted disarming of a police officer," a felony. Lopez's complaint denies that charge, and contends he was merely moving "his arms or body as a natural and instinctive reaction to being violently assaulted."
Lopez is still facing that criminal case as of Friday, according to his suit, which also accuses city police of using "false statements" to a grand jury to obtain a felony charge.
As a result of his alleged beating, Lopez says he "suffered broken bones, severe bruising and pain, and lacerations."
Lopez is seeking an amount "in excess of $75,000" for his damages. In a statement to KSTP, Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal says the city "just received the civil complaint and will be defending the city's interests."
The lawsuit says Lopez is a "longtime fan" of the Vikings, and notes that he'd "traveled more than a thousand miles... for the purpose of personally attending a Vikings game at the team's home venue." Lopez's complaint does not state his current feelings about the team.
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