MINNEAPOLIS -- A jury has awarded $54,000 to a man who said
he was assaulted three years ago by former Minneapolis North High School and
University of Connecticut basketball standout Khalid El-Amin.
At the crux of the civil case was a security-system videotape
that allegedly showed El-Amin and another man assaulting Curtis
Frazier, 42, in a downtown Minneapolis parking ramp on April 16,
Frazier, a Minneapolis computer chip inspector, claimed he
suffered eye socket, nose and facial nerve injuries in the beating.
He said the trouble happened when he tried to enter an elevator
occupied by El-Amin and his friends.
In testimony last week before Hennepin County District Judge
George McGunnigle, El-Amin denied he assaulted Frazier.
The videotape was inexplicably erased. The key evidence was
somehow recorded over and replaced by an episode of PBS' "Mister
"Nobody could figure out what happened" to the tape, said
Loren Dorshow, the lawyer who represented Frazier.
According to trial testimony, the videotape was taken home by a
security guard and at other times left unattended.
"We were at a big disadvantage trying to defend against a
videotape that we were never able to see and that was no longer in
existence," said Jeffrey Hassan, El-Amin's lawyer, who said the
verdict will be appealed.
One security employee witnessed the incident via video screen as
it occurred. Four others watched the tape before it was erased.
They were allowed, over Hassan's objections, to testify about what
they saw on the later-altered tape. And they identified El-Amin as
one of the perpetrators.
No criminal charges were filed in the case. The standard of
proof needed to win a lawsuit is lower than that required to
obtain a conviction in a criminal case.
The jury awarded Frazier $40,000 for pain and suffering plus
$4,000 for medical bills last Thursday, and came back Friday and
awarded $10,000 in punitive damages.
El-Amin, 24, who played for the Chicago Bulls in 2001 and last
season in Israel, attended the trial for one day. Before he
could testify in person, he left for Istanbul to begin playing in
the Turkish pro league.
The jury heard El-Amin's side of the story on videotape.