Emails contradict chief’s comment that Minneapolis police were aware of officer’s stun-gun incident prior to hiring.

In April of last year, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said to reporters that he had “just learned” about a recruit who was involved in an incident involving the use of excessive force in Fairfax County in Virginia.

Internal emails obtained by The Star Tribune reveal that Tyler Timberlake informed the city about the prior incident in his background check conducted in September 2022, seven months before an article brought attention to this hire.

Timberlake accused O’Hara of defaming his character and asked city officials to investigate the matter. This was a month after O’Hara had publicly promised to conduct a thorough investigation into Timberlake’s hiring.

Timberlake wrote in an email dated May 15, which was verified by Star Tribune as being authentic. These statements have hurt my reputation, including implying the chief was unaware of my previous work history and my hiring by MPD, when in fact he played a role in my hiring.

A spokesman for the MPD did not respond to comments Saturday. O’Hara also declined to comment last week when asked what he knew and when about Timberlake’s history. Casper Hill, a city spokesman, said that “the city does not have any comment on these emails.”

Insiders and watchdogs have criticized O’Hara for the way he handled Timberlake’s tenure with the department. O’Hara was appointed chief of police less than a month ago, on a promise that he would help usher in an era of improved public safety. Timberlake’s employment ended on July 5, according to records. The city spokesperson would not confirm whether Timberlake was fired or resigned.

These emails are coming two days after O’Hara’s last interview with Timberlake was reportedly conducted by O’Hara, who “was fully aware of his past.”

Sherral Schmidt, the union president, said that Chief O’Hara had assured Timberlake he would be fine if he performed well. “This is not the case.”

Chief comments prompted a ‘grave concern’

Timberlake was officially hired by the city in January. The Minnesota Reformer reported in April that Timberlake had been charged with criminal and federal charges for subduing an individual using a stungun.

The footage, which was used in news articles across the country, shows Timberlake, other officers, and paramedics responding to a call from a Mount Vernon (Va.) resident who reported that a man needed oxygen on June 5, 2020. Officers arrive to find Lamonta gladney pacing around and responding to their questions in a confused manner. Gladney is coaxed into an ambulance by others, but Timberlake uses a stungun to shoot the man, causing him to fall to the floor in pain.

Fairfax County Police Chief slammed Timberlake for his conduct. He said the video “erodes public trust in police officers.” Timberlake was found not guilty of the three misdemeanor assault and battery counts by a jury. Fairfax County paid $150,000 to the victim in a settlement last year.

O’Hara responded to the report on April 20 by saying that Timberlake will not be assigned as an officer until the investigation is completed.

The chief of police said, “We’ll get to the bottom this issue and take any necessary measures to ensure that we always hire officers who meet our standard and we place only the most competent and qualified police in the service and protection of the City of Minneapolis.”

The emails show Timberlake communicating with a city worker about the incident on September 26, 2022, during his background check.

Craig Johnson, a Minneapolis Police sergeant, wrote that he would like to know the date of the critical incident as well as the timeframe.

Timberlake responded by saying that the incident occurred on June 5. The next day, he was placed on administrative leave and told to report himself to the Fairfax County Jail. He was released the next day from jail and was placed on leave. After being acquitted in court, he was then reinstated.

O’Hara’s appointment as chief was made in November, just two months after his exchange.

Timberlake expressed “grave concerns” in his email of May 20, 2023 to city officials, accusing O’Hara for lying to the media. He also said that O’Hara was likely to continue to defame Timberlake. As the city knows and as the proof shows, I have been candid, honest, and self-aware in my efforts to earn a position within the MPD so that I can contribute to a profession I love,” wrote Timberlake. It is disappointing that Chief O’Hara, when faced with a limited narrative of the events by certain media, found it easier defame than own the truth. This will show that he interview me and approved my hiring after a full disclosure.

The email asks for a city investigation at the end.

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