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Prescott man takes police to court

A ruling is expected in the case of a man who alleges Prescott police assaulted him in 2016, then destroyed body camera recordings that documented the incident.

Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles said Thursday, Oct. 19, he will issue a written ruling in Jeffrey Lakela's motion for summary judgment against the Prescott Police Department.

Lakela, who was charged with a misdemeanor crime in association with the Nov. 2, 2016, incident, alleges in court filings that he was "framed up" by Prescott police during the encounter. According to a court brief, Lakela said police harassed, assaulted and took him hostage during the incident, which occurred outside the Holiday Station Store along Highway 10. City officials said earlier this month that they couldn't comment on the case since it was in litigation.

Lakela is seeking unspecified damages from the Prescott Police Department.

In the court filing, Lakela states the incident would be revealed as a "gang-style assault and hostage taking" if body camera footage were available. However, he alleges former department employees deleted the recordings.

Ryan Steffes, an attorney representing the city of Prescott, called those claims "wild speculation" at last week's hearing.

"There simply is no such evidence in this case" to back up those claims, he said.

Lakela said in court that his subsequent efforts to track down information about the case have resulted in additional run-ins with Prescott police, including an Oct.9, 2017, incident that also occurred outside the Holiday station.

"This is all a part of their smear campaign to put an end to my evidence gathering," he said in court.

Lakela has also filed complaints regarding the police encounters with Prescott's Board of Police Commissioners.

Boles hadn't issued a written ruling in the case as of Monday, Oct. 23.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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