MANKATO — No Mankato police officers were disciplined for their restraint of a man who resisted arrest in downtown Mankato in August.
Bystander video appeared to show an officer briefly place his knee on the neck of Pierre Cortez Tolentino, of Mankato, during a disturbance just after bar close.
Director of Public Safety Amy Vokal said an outside investigation concluded that unnecessary force was used but it was “unintentional and circumstantial.”
“The city maintains that the responding officers carried out their duties appropriately in this matter,” she said in a statement.
Tolentino interfered as officers were breaking up a fight between two women Aug. 15, court documents say. He then fought with officers, at one point grabbing an officer’s Taser. The officer and Pierre fought for control of the stun gun until the officer got it away and used it on Pierre.
Meanwhile other officers were detaining Tolentino’s sister, who also reportedly was combative. And a crowd of onlookers had formed, some of them yelling at police.
A bystander video shared on social media and with The Free Press appeared to show the end of the confrontation.
The video is blurry but multiple officers can be seen holding down Tolentino and a woman on the ground. One officer’s knee can be seen briefly on Tolentino’s neck while the officer was looking at the crowd that had gathered and someone was yelling that he heard gunshots.
The video prompted the Department of Public Safety to hire Red Cedar Consulting to investigate the incident. The Twin Cities firm investigates workplace misconduct claims, according to its website.
Following the completion of the investigation, no disciplinary action was taken against any of the six officers involved, Vokal said.
“The investigative agency concluded that officers inadvertently deployed a degree of unnecessary force in the detainment,” she said in a statement. “Its use was clearly unintentional and circumstantial. The bystander video showed Mr. Tolentino physically struggling with officers to resist apprehension while the increasingly hostile crowd surrounded them.”
Tolentino pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced earlier this month in Blue Earth County District Court. He pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor obstructing the legal process and to a charge of disarming a police officer that will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor if he successfully completes the terms of his sentence.
Tolentino was given credit for five days already spent in jail, and additional jail time will be waived if he completes five days of community service and three years of probation.
The outcome of a separate investigation into a photograph showing two Mankato officers restraining a man has not been resolved.
The photo from 2015 shows an officer with a knee on or near a detained man’s head or neck. It was shared on social media last spring in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Vokal said she expected she will be able to release more information about that investigation later this summer.