The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a Duluth police officer should be reinstated to the role from which he was fired for using excessive force in 2017.
In an opinion filed on Tuesday, the appeals court agreed with a decision by a district court ruling that Adam Huot should not have lost his job over the incident.
This in turn was based on the decision of a third-party arbitrator who concluded "that discipline was warranted, but that termination was not," awarding Huot reinstatement to his role, albeit without back pay or benefits.
The Duluth Police Union had challenged Huot's firing, and the arbitrator found that the use-of-force incident in question was "relatively minor" compared to another use-of-force incident Huot was involved in, in which he "repeatedly punched a man in the head in order to get the man to drop a shard of glass," even though other officers were restraining him.
For that incident, Huot was punished with a one-day suspension, with the arbitrator concluding that firing the officer for a second offense was too much of an escalation, albeit did say that a third excessive force incident should result in his termination.
The Appeals Court ruled there wasn't enough to justify overturning the recommendation made by the arbitrator, ruling in favor of Huot. Should they seek to take this further, the City of Duluth could request the case be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The incident unfolded in a Duluth skywalk, where two men were reported for loitering. When responding officers told them to move along, one of them said he wanted to go to jail "right [expletive] now."
After they handcuffed him and started walking with him, the man fell to the ground, saying: "I ain't gonna make it easy for you guys."
Body camera footage later released then shows Huot, without warning, dragging the handcuffed man for 100 feet through a hallway, slamming the man's head against steel door frame.
The incident occurred May 20 and Huot was fired on June 5, 2017, with the Duluth Police Union filing a grievance 16 days later.
After the arbitrator ruled in favor of Duluth Mayor Emily Larson condemned the ruling, saying she will do everything legally possible to keep Huot from rejoining the force.
"This incident is an example of completely unacceptable behavior that as Mayor, I cannot and will not support," said Larson. "I, Chief Administrative Officer, David Montgomery, and Chief Tusken stand together in supporting the decision to terminate this officer as a consequence for his egregious actions.