(NEW YORK) — Police in St. Paul, Minnesota, have released a video from an incident this summer when a black man was bitten by a K9 and kicked by a police officer.
The victim, 52-year-old Frank Baker, suffered bites to his leg, multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs, his attorney Robert Bennett told The Associated Press. Bennett said Baker was hospitalized for a couple weeks for the injuries.
The incident captured on police video happened June 24 after officers responded to calls about a fight, St. Paul police said.
The responding officers were told one person had a gun and they found a man who they believed matched the description of the person with a gun, police said. When an officer told the man to put his hands in the air, the man raised one hand, police said. The officer repeated the command but the man was slow to respond, police said.
An officer released a K9 to apprehend the man, and the dog made contact with the person who then fell to ground, police said.
Police said officers told the man to keep his hands visible, but when he did not one officer kicked the man in the ribs three times.
The man was handcuffed, the K9 taken off him and paramedics were called, police said.
No gun was found, police said.
“I’m disappointed and upset by what the video shows,” Police Chief Todd Axtell said at a press conference this afternoon when the video was released. “The content of this video does not reflect the way we strive to do our job, day in and day out.”
He added that he released the video “because it’s the right thing to do.”
The chief said every incident involving use of force by an officer is reviewed by the police department and that the officer involved who had the interaction with Baker was suspended for 30 days, more than what was required.
Representatives for the St. Paul’s police union defended the officers involved, saying Baker had matched the description given to officers that day of a man with a gun and that he “ignored numerous commands to put his hands in the air … he refused to comply.”
St. Paul Police Federation representatives also said the responding officers had “legitimate and reasonable fear” that the man had a weapon, adding that the incident happened in a dangerous area.
The police union representatives said the officers helped the man afterward by making sure he was comfortable, getting him water and calling medics, but that this is not shown on the video.
The two officers involved are both “exemplary officers with clean records” who have strong reputations, morals and work history, the federation representatives said.
Axtell said he met with Baker while he was in the hospital and assured him that a full review was being conducted. The police chief said he met with the victim again today in his office and offered an apology on behalf of the department.
“As a result of this incident we have increased our training for officers,” Axtell said. “When we don’t get things right we have to own it … and we have to apologize.”
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