FARGO – A Fargo School Board candidate is suing the Bismarck Police Department for $75 million and an apology for allegedly violating his civil rights during a 2007 arrest that came after his then-teenage son told authorities the man hit and threatened him.
The candidate, 58-year-old Radomysl Twardowski, told Forum News Service on Thursday that the 2007 arrest represented an “illegal, vicious, violent attack” on him.
The Bismarck Tribune reported Twardowski was originally charged with three felonies after his then-15-year-old son told police the man had hit him and threatened to kill both him and his mother, Twardowski’s wife.
Investigating officers said Twardowski was uncooperative, and they had to take the man to the ground and use an electronic restraining device so he could be handcuffed.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that Twardowski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge in exchange for a six-month deferred sentence.
Twardowski told The Forum he agreed for the charges to “hang around for six months” and be dropped. “I am not guilty of anything,” he said.
At the time of his run-in with police, Twardowski had an active medical license. The incident did not lead to any disciplinary action by the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners. His license expired in December, and Twardowski said he’s retired from medicine.
‘A mounting tension’
Twardowski filed his suit in May in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, naming the Bismarck Police Department and Lt. Glen Ternes, Sgt. Lyle Sinclair and Detective Brandon Rask as defendants.
They responded last August, denying all allegations and listing several reasons they were immune from the suit, including acting in good faith while doing their jobs and statutes of limitations.
Twardowski’s suit was unsuccessful in the Bismarck court, and he’s appealing the case in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Twardowski is representing himself in the lawsuit proceedings, which he also did during the 2007 case in Bismarck. He said he and his wife moved to Fargo in 2012.
In a court document from his lawsuit, Twardoski said there was “a mounting tension” in January 2007, a result of his wife’s previous multiple sclerosis diagnosis and her desire to “separate the family.” His son, acting under stress, hit him in the stomach, so he said he “had to discipline him” by fending off the teenager and slapping or smacking him on the shoulder.
He said police officers entered the home a few days later without proper introductions or warrants in “full attack mode,” which he said “provoked my exasperation.” He alleged officers used unreasonable force that injured his wrists and hip.
Twardowski referred to previously reported details of his 2007 arrest as “fake news.” But he said renewed media attention to the matter could benefit his first-ever run for office.
“Well, OK, maybe it’ll just turn around to work in my favor because basically I’ll just explain my position in this and that’s it,” he said.
Twardowski said he may tell voters that it’s “just a total fake slander” if Forum News Service reported on the 2007 incident, adding he might resort to suing for slander.
“You are basically just, you know, trying to get a, ambush me with some fake stories dredging up a very unfair, very unfair situation from the past,” he said. “First, I was attacked by my family, then by some unfortunate people in Bismarck, and I am suing them for attacking me.”
Twardowski said he’d rather focus on the Fargo School Board where he’d work on priorities that include supporting students, setting broad goals for the district and improving grades and college admission rates.
He said he’d bring a “conservative” approach if elected. That viewpoint came up again later in the interview when he said he believes there’s “pressure” on conservatives in America, suggesting that might have factored into his arrest.
Twardowski said he waited a decade to sue the police because he needed to test his “fidelity” to his wife and family and ability to “carry the cross.” He said he now feels like he’s being “unjustly portrayed” as the story resurfaces.
“I somehow didn’t want to do it for 10 years because I kind of wanted my family to come back to me and say, ‘You know, Dad, I’m sorry. I really should've done better.’ They haven’t done it, you know. I have to finally move, put this Bismarck thing behind me and focus on great things that I am doing in the family,” he said.
Twardowski said he remains close to his family, including his two sons and wife.