By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A St. Paul police officer is recovering after being assaulted on the job in the early hours of Friday morning.

Cuyler Mason Howard, 20, was charged in Ramsey County on Monday with fourth-degree assault and attempting to disarm a peace officer in connection to the incident.

According to the criminal complaint, an officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Linwood Avenue in St. Paul around 12:30 on Friday morning, after two homeowners reported a man trying to enter their homes.

Culyer Howard (Credit: Ramsey County)

Officer Michael Ganzel found the man, identified as Howard, around a block away. When Ganzel asked Howard to put his hands over his head, Howard started to comply but then allegedly punched the officer in the face with a closed fist. The complaint says he went on to punch Ganzel multiple times, and the officer’s uniform was spattered with his own blood.

Ganzel eventually put Howard on the ground, but Howard reportedly gouged at his eyes and bit the top of his head.

Credit: St. Paul Police

Then Ganzel sprayed Howard with a chemical irritant, but when other officers arrived, Howard put his hand on Ganzel’s holster and tried to disarm him, the complaint states.

Later in a post-Miranda interview, Howard said Ganzel had surprised him and thought Ganzel “was going to kill me.” Howard then said that if he had his own weapon, he would have shot the officer.

If convicted on both counts, Howard could face up to five-and-a-half years in prison. St. Paul police say Ganzel is recovering from his injuries and should be ready to return to work soon.