MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The St. Paul Police chief is apologizing for the actions of some of his officers.
A video released Friday afternoon shows a St. Paul K-9 biting a man and then another officer kicking him several times. The incident happened this past June.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell is releasing the video in the spirit of transparency. He says the department learned from the incident, made changes and is better because of it.
“I’m releasing the video because it’s the right thing to do,” Axtell said in a press conference Friday afternoon. “Our community has a right to know what’s happening in their police department.”
The video shows St. Paul police officers responding to a call. There were reports of a large fight taking place on 7th Street, and a man involved had a gun.
[WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT] Raw Footage From St. Paul PD Squad Car
According to reports, the description of the man with a gun matched that of the man seen in the video being taken down by a police dog. The officer also shows video of a man kicking the dog three times before he was handcuffed and taken away.
“As St. Paul’s police chief, I’m disappointed and upset by what the video shows,” Axtell said. “As a person who deeply cares about our community and this department, I’m profoundly saddened.”
Axtell says the incident happened the day after he became chief, and that he wanted to get it right.
“Sometimes the review leads to changes in policies, and sometimes discipline,” he said.
Since this incident, Axtell says there has been increased training for officers, retooling of de-escalation skills needed in situations where K-9s are involved.
A recommendation from the Citizens Police Oversight Committee was a 10-day suspension for K-9 officer Brian Ficcadenti involved in the video. Axtell opted to suspend him for 30 days. Officer Brett Palkowitsch caught on camera kicking the man is on unpaid leave and currently part of an open investigation.
Axtell says he met with the man in the video and apologized for the actions of his officers.
“Because he’s a human being, and I’m a human being, and it was the right thing to do,” Axtell said. “I believe in law enforcement we have to do a little bit more of that from time to time. When we don’t get things right, we have to own it, we have to be transparent and we have to apologize.”
The violence captured on video outraged community leaders.
“That was grotesque what we just saw,” NAACP St. Paul President Jeff Martin said.
“They should both be terminated. They both have no place in St. Paul as police officers. You do not put a dog on a human being,” Tyrone Terrell, President of African American Leadership Council.
The St. Paul Police Federation calls the officers men with good reputations and morals.
“This resulted in something that never needed to happen. These officers followed procedures, they did their job and now they’re being attacked because someone else decided that the rules don’t matter,” Federation attorney Chris Wachtler said.
The union says the video doesn’t show how those officers cared for the man in the video after the incident, making sure he received the proper medical care.
Bob Bennett, the attorney of the man in the video, says it took 13 days in the hospital for his client to heal. Bennett says the man suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs from the kicking, and underwent multiple surgeries for lost tissue from the dog biting him all the way to the bone.