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MPD, Brooklyn Center officers fabricated baby in distress call after seeing plastic doll, broke into home, lawsuit says

WCCO digital headlines: Morning of May 18, 2024
WCCO digital headlines: Morning of May 18, 2024 00:57

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Two Minneapolis police officers and a Brooklyn Center officer saw a doll inside a woman's home but falsely called it a baby in distress in order to break into and search the residence without a warrant, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this week.

The lawsuit, filed by Yolanda Mays and Tommy Holmes, names the two Minneapolis Police Officers Andrew Schroeder and Mark Suchta, as well as Brooklyn Center Police Officer Alan Salvosa and the city of Minneapolis as defendants. They're accused of unlawful search, as well as violating Mays' and Holmes' civil rights.

According to the lawsuit, Mays was not home when Schroeder and Suchta arrived at her house on March 21, 2023. Holmes, however, was in the basement. The Minneapolis officers said they were investigating a case, even though Mays' home was not connected to any actual investigations. 

After they arrived, Schroeder rifled through and read some of Mays' mail, the lawsuit says.

Suchta looked through the window and saw a baby doll on the couch inside the home, and the two MPD officers discussed if it was a doll or a real baby. Suchta said he believed it was a doll, but Schroeder called Brooklyn Center emergency services and reported a potential baby in distress, the lawsuit says.

They were soon joined by Salvosa, who looked through the window to see the baby doll, which the lawsuit says "does not look like a real baby," as it has "stitching on joints, a plastic sheen, and is not particularly lifelike." 

baby-doll.jpg
Eric Rice

Salvosa kicked in the door to Mays' home, though Brooklyn Center police had access to door code information, the lawsuit says. Officers then conducted a search of the home and the garage. Salvosa's actions caused damage to the door, the frame, and the home, according to documents. 

The lawsuit claims that the officers "used the observation of a baby as pretext" to enter Mays' home and "conduct an illegal and unauthorized search." As a result, Holmes and Mays both suffered from invasion of privacy, stigma, distress, and trauma, according to the lawsuit.

door-frame.jpg
Eric Rice

The city of Minneapolis is also named in the suit, as Schroeder has roughly 20 disciplinary matters listed since 2015 some of which are related to conducting unlawful searches, the lawsuit says. The suit accuses the city of ineffective discipline and supervision on previous unlawful searches, leading to Schroeder and Suchta's "unconstitutional conduct."

Minneapolis police said they were not able to comment on ongoing litigation. WCCO-TV has also reached out to Brooklyn Center for comment but has yet to hear back.

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