Mankato officials won’t discipline officers for take-down

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

MANKATO — Officials in Mankato have decided not to discipline two police officers accused of using excessive force when they took a college student to the ground six years ago.

Sgts. Ken Baker and Bill Reinbold responded to a complaint of a loud party at Justin Coates’ apartment in 2015. Coates posted a photo on social media of the officers pinning him to the floor. Baker’s knee is on Coates’ neck, much like Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck in 2020. Coates ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor public nuisance charge and paid a fine.

The Mankato Free Press reported Tuesday that the city announced neither officer will be disciplined after an “ongoing dialogue” with Coates.

The city’s statement touted initiatives the Department of Public Safety has launched in the past year, including listening sessions and establishing a committee on police reform. Asked for more details, Department of Public Safety communications director Edell Fiedler told the Free Press that the parties worked together to resolve the matter.

Coates, now 30, said he’s not happy with the outcome and all he did was talk with Department of Public Safety Director Amy Vokal and Deputy Director Matt DuRose about building community trust. He said he was told that if he wanted to go further he would need to request a hearing with an arbitrator. He ultimately decided he didn’t want to spend money on an attorney.