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Charges: Man repeatedly punched St. Paul officer, tried to grab his gun to shoot him

The officer's face and uniform were "splattered" with his own blood, charges say.
Photos from the St. Paul Police Department show bruising on Officer Michael Ganzel's face and blood on his uniform.

Photos from the St. Paul Police Department show bruising on Officer Michael Ganzel's face and blood on his uniform.

A 20-year-old St. Paul man is accused of beating a police officer who was trying to arrest him.

Cuyler Mason Howard allegedly punched a St. Paul police officer in the head multiple times and attempted to pull the officer's gun from his belt with the intent to kill him, the charges against Howard allege. 

Howard was charged this week in Ramsey County District Court with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer and attempting to disarm a peace officer in connection to the Sept. 24 incident. 

A photo from the St. Paul Police Department shows blood on Officer Michael Ganzel's badge. 

A photo from the St. Paul Police Department shows blood on Officer Michael Ganzel's badge. 

According to the criminal complaint, Officer Michael Ganzel responded to the 700 block of Linwood Avenue around 12:30 a.m. that day on a report that a man was attempting to break into two homes. 

The two homeowners who called 911 confronted the man, who was walking a dog, at their homes and he walked away, charges state. He appeared to have caused some damage to the homes as he was trying to get inside. 

The homeowners described the man, and shortly thereafter Ganzel saw Howard a block away from where the calls originated. 

Ganzel got out of his squad car and asked Howard twice to stop and put his hands on his head, charges say. When Howard began to comply and Ganzel attempted to secure him, Howard punched the officer in the face and head multiple times. 

Ganzel's face and uniform were "splattered" with his blood, the complaint states. 

Ganzel "eventually was able to" get Howard on the ground, at which point Howard tried to gouge Ganzel's eyes and punched him repeatedly in the head, the complaint alleges. Ganzel then attempted to protect his eyes by burying his face in Howard's chest and Howard bit the top of Ganzel's head, leaving teeth marks on the officer's scalp, charges state. 

Ganzel then used pepper spray on Howard. And as other officers arrived, Howard grabbed Ganzel's holster "in an apparent attempt to disarm the officer," the complaint said. 

The other officers helped secure Howard, and Howard repeatedly apologized saying he should not have fought the officer. 

In an interview after his arrest, Howard said the officer surprised him and he thought Ganzel was going to kill him, adding after Ganzel sprayed him in the face he tried to grab his gun because he was angered and wanted to kill him. 

“I thought he was going to kill me so I tried to kill him, but then his gun was locked to his waist so I couldn’t get his gun ... couldn't kill him,” he told police, according to the complaint. 

He also told police that if he had his own weapon he would have just shot Ganzel and killed him, the complaint says. 

He also admitted to being at the two homes that night but claimed he was just looking around because he's interested in the homes in the area. 

Howard was released on Monday after posting bail. He's scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 11, court records show. 

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