MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Getting fired from the department may not be the only problem for five former St. Paul police officers.

Just more than 24 hours after Chief Todd Axtell announced the termination of five officers, WCCO-TV has learned the man who was allegedly assaulted in front of those officers last year has retained an attorney.

Attorney Andy Noel confirmed he is representing the assault victim in this case. His firm represented the families of Justine Ruszczyk Damond and Philando Castile during civil proceedings.

Noel told WCCO’s Mary McGuire that they are looking at pursuing monetary claims against the officers involved and the city of St. Paul.

On Friday, the department’s union president offered a sharp response to their termination.

“The facts of these cases are far, far different from those broadcast by Chief Axtell. These officers now have been deprived of unbiased and genuine due process, because of his statements. They have been painted in a false and unfair light, due to his actions,” Federation president Paul Kuntz said

The union plans on appealing the termination of these officers.

Chief Axtell fired them over what he called “significant policy violations” connected to a 2018 attack that officers saw, but did not intervene. He didn’t elaborate on the incident, but sources tell WCCO the assault happened last summer outside Eastside Checkerboard Pizza and Bar, which is run by former police officer Tou Cha.

Cha has pleaded not guilty to beating a “completely defenseless” man with a baton and pepper spraying him.

Chief Axtell responded to the Union’s allegations with a statement of his own, writing, in part:

“My administration values accountability, transparency, trust and honesty … we do not deviate from them, which is why the untrue allegations made by the Federation are so disappointing.

“I look forward to hearing the Federation’s position on this matter once they have taken the initiative to request and review the investigative files.”

Mary McGuire

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