Two St. Paul police officers are on leave following the arrest of a man who was kicked by an officer and bitten by a police dog.
Frank Baker, 53, suffered "severe lacerations" when he was bitten in the leg several times by a K-9 during the June 24 incident, the police report says. He spent two weeks in the hospital being treated for the dog bites, as well as the broken ribs and partially collapsed lungs he suffered from being kicked in the chest by one of the responding officers, the Star Tribune reports.
Squad car dash camera video, which was released Friday afternoon (watch it below, but know it may be difficult for some to view), shows a police dog pull Baker to the ground – you can hear Baker yell out in pain – before several officers surround him.
The incident prompted a public apology from St. Paul police chief Todd Axtell, who said in a statement Friday morning he was "disappointed and upset by what the video shows." Axtell said the department released the video in an effort to be transparent, noting officials are investigating the incident.
Axtell said Friday afternoon K-9 officer Brian Ficcadenti, a five-year veteran, has been suspended for 30 days, with a letter from Axtell to Ficcadenti saying "the decisions and conclusions you made are troubling," noting his actions during Baker's arrest didn't follow several police department policies.
The officer who kicked Baker, identified as Brett Palkowitsch, a three-year veteran, is on unpaid leave – he also faces a complaint and investigation because Baker was already unarmed and being subdued by the K-9 officer, KSTP and MPR News report.
Leading up to the arrest
Officers were called to East 7th Street just after 10 p.m. on June 24 on a report of a large fight, which included people with bats, golf clubs and a gun.
When they arrived, they didn't find a fight, but they did see a man sitting in an SUV that met the description of the man who reportedly had a gun. That man, who reportedly was black with dreadlocks and wearing a white T-shirt, was later identified as Baker.
Ficcadenti got the K-9 out of his car and ordered Baker to put his hand in the air, but Baker hesitated. Ficcadenti said he released his K-9 because he thought "that Baker was about to pull a firearm on me." When Baker still wouldn't comply with the officers' orders, another officer reported seeing Palkowitsch kick the man several times before handcuffing him.
Baker was taken to the hospital and later cited for obstructing legal process, which is a misdemeanor.
Officers didn't find a gun in Baker's SUV.
St. Paul's mayor responds
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released a statement Friday regarding the incident. He said:
“I am deeply disturbed by what I saw on the video. I have full faith that the chief is handling this case appropriately and that appropriate discipline will be taken. While I want to be fully transparent, Minnesota law prevents me from talking about disciplinary action until any employee appeals period is over.
“Our community can take comfort in earlier cases, such as the departure of Sgt. Jeff Rothecker. I believe these outcomes show why the St. Paul Police Department is one of the best in the country, that the chief and officers care deeply about building relationships with the communities they serve and that there is no room in the department for officers who do not perform their duties with honor and respect.”