Former Illinois state trooper sues Minnesota State Patrol over 'humiliating, unlawful' arrest

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Former IL state trooper sues MN State Patrol after 'unlawful' arrest
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Former Illinois State Police trooper Michael Cooper believes the only thing that prompted his arrest by Minnesota state officers was the color of his skin.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One year ago, a decorated, retired Illinois state trooper was arrested while working private security for CNN during the aftermath of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis.

It's a story first reported last year by the I-Team.

RELATED | 6 months after George Floyd was killed, the untold arrest of an ex-Illinois state trooper

Now, Michael Cooper is suing two Minnesota State Patrol officers who hold the same position he had for decades with the Illinois State Police. In the lawsuit, Cooper alleges his "humiliating and unlawful arrest" by those Minnesota officers.

It was May 29, 2020 when Twin Cities streets were in flames and CNN Black/LatinX correspondent Omar Jimenez had already been taken away in handcuffs in a live-on-TV arrest that had embarrassed city and state leaders who promised it wouldn't happen again.

A day later it did, when Cooper says he was trying to escort other CNN news personnel to a safe location.

"We started filming at about four o'clock, at which time I noticed an element, different elements started coming in, of people. They were dressed all in black; they were carrying bags. They were carrying gasoline, they were totally hidden," Cooper said during an interview with the I-Team in November 2020.

Cooper --who had been heralded for solving cold case crimes during his years with Illinois State Police -- told the I-Team he was legally carrying two guns that night and his media credentials. He believes the only thing that prompted his arrest by Minnesota state officers was the color of his skin.

"They did a felony stop, is what we call it. You know, they had me turn around, they had me walk backwards to him to go to get on my knees. They had me lie down, put my hands behind me palms up. I had my ID in my hand the whole time, palms up, at which time they approached me, they grabbed my arms, they cuffed me and left me there for a bit."

State Patrol officials said they "disagree with the allegations" and provided an arrest report stating Cooper "had no credentials" on him.

Cooper and CNN crew members with the former Illinois state trooper that night tell a different story. They said he was locked up for 20 hours in the Hennepin County Jail and released with no charges ever filed.

Cooper said what he told the I-Team in November, still applies.

"I'm still trying to cope with it and you know I still wake up thinking about it. How can this happen?" he aid.

CNN is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit; just the two state patrol officers who arrested Cooper.

According to Cooper, it is a suit that could have easily been avoided had Minnesota state officials simply apologized.

He said they didn't -- and that is why he is suing for $1 million in damages.