FARGO — The Fargo Police Department has released the complete, unedited videos of a Monday, July 15, traffic stop that resulted in injuries to a suspect and officers.
As a result of a public records request, The Forum obtained Thursday two videos of the traffic stop that led to a confrontation between 26-year-old Abraham Nyei and officers.
One video, which lasts 34 minutes, 23 seconds, is from the dash cam of the squad car that pulled Nyei over, and the other video, which lasts 28 minutes, 10 seconds, is from that squad car's backseat camera.
Police had previously released an edited 11-minute clip of the incident, posting it on Facebook Tuesday night. The full, unedited videos do not shed much additional light on the incident that left Nyei with a broken nose and three officers with minor injuries.
Chief David Todd said Wednesday that he could not recall a time when his department had publicly released squad car video during an open investigation. Todd strayed from protocol in this case in response to Nyei's claims that police violated his rights and racially profiled him. Todd told The Forum he "absolutely disputes" those claims.
In Nyei's case, five squad cars responded to the traffic stop, but only one recorded video, police said.
That video is from the car of Officer Heidi Witzel, who started following Nyei after he ran a red light at 42nd Avenue South and Ninth Avenue South.
Sgt. Kevin Volrath said squad car cameras automatically start recording once an officer activates their flashing lights. An officer can also manually turn on the cameras, he added.
Volrath said there's no video of the initial traffic violation. But Witzel's squad car video shows Nyei driving down the street before pulling into the back of his apartment in the 4300 block of Ninth Avenue Circle South.
There's also a video of two officers taking Nyei to Cass County Jail after he was medically cleared at Sanford Medical Center. The Forum viewed that video, which only shows Nyei sitting silently in the backseat during the 10-minute drive.
Responding to the incident with Witzel was Officer Paul Iverson, driving the second squad car seen in the video. The third responding squad car was driven by Officer Paul Nelson, who's seen in the video breaking Nyei's car window after he did not comply with their orders to get out of the car.
None of the footage shows Nyei's scuffle with officers after they forcibly removed him from his car. According to court documents, Nyei shoved himself into Officer Iverson, and Nyei and Iverson both tripped and stumbled on the curb.
Iverson then pushed Nyei's upper back and lower neck area, which caused Nyei to fall forward, and his face hit a light pole, according to the report. Chief Todd has said he believes the officers' use of force was appropriate.
Nyei has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of preventing arrest, fleeing and marijuana possession. Nyei told The Forum on Thursday that he plans to retain an attorney and fight the charges.
"It was supposed to be a regular traffic stop," he said. "I ended up receiving injuries and damaged property."