Minneapolis SWAT Team Incident Leads to Launch of Good Apple Initiative
MINNEAPOLIS — In the days after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, a SWAT team cased Minneapolis in an unmarked van trying to control protestors.
They shot off non-lethal rounds and one of them hit Jaleel Stallings. He’s a veteran, who at the time, had a permit to carry. He fired back, hoping to scare off the shooters. Instead, Minneapolis police officers came out of the van and ambushed Stallings, beating him despite body camera video showing him drop to the ground in defense. Stallings would eventually face several serious charges.
The charges were later dropped and Stallings was acquitted when that video contradicted the officer’s stories. He would win a settlement, move out of state and is now doing something to spark changes in the system.
“It’s been a daily part of my life since that incident happened,” said Stallings from his home in Houston. “I feel like there were so many different opportunities for someone to come forward and say, this is wrong, it shouldn’t be happening, and no one took that opportunity.”
The Birth of the Good Apple Initiative
To perhaps right more of the wrong, he’s launching a new nonprofit called the Good Apple Initiative. He hopes to encourage the good apples within government, including police departments and the criminal justice system, to come forward and help make change — change he says is still coming.
“I don’t see anything that has necessarily shifted the needle in my opinion,” said Stallings. “I’m not saying we’re going to fix everything, it’s about doing the work to start that process to start to make things better.”
The new website, that just went live Tuesday night, will have a hotline to anonymously report grievances and informational tool kits, all while Stallings is talking with officers around the state about how to make the most meaningful shift.
“It’s about doing the work that is necessary to loosen, what we would say, a bad apple’s grip on a police department or other things and it’s going to take a community and collaborative effort to get that done,” said Stallings. “A lot of them do feel alone, they feel they’re alone so they’re afraid to buck against the system, afraid of retaliation and things of that nature and we’re just trying to give them a safe space to come forward and be a part of that change.”
Supporting and Promoting Good Apples
Stallings then wants to provide a support network so those officers can be promoted to leadership roles to encourage and teach better behavior.
The Good Apple Initiative also has a board of directors and a donation page if you’d like to contribute.
Legal Proceedings and the Road Ahead
As for Stalling’s case, that’s coming to a legal end.
The former Minneapolis cop charged for beating Stalling, Justin Stetson, admitted he “went too far” and pleaded guilty, but Stetson can’t ever be an officer in Minnesota again.
He was supposed to be sentenced on Wednesday, but that court hearing got moved to next month.
Stallings says he’ll be there, even though he thinks Stetson’s plea deal is much too lenient. But he’s still looking forward to the future.
“There is a sense of hope and excitement at the prospect of being able to get these things done,” he said. “And apprehension knowing how much work and what I’m actually attempting to tackle.”
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