St. Paul police chief: Officer shouldn’t have shot Black man

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St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, Mayor Melvin Carter, and other officers stood at the podium as body camera footage played for the media on televisions in the room at a press conference about a shooting by a police officer last weekend in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A St. Paul officer who shot and wounded a Black man who emerged naked from a dumpster while being sought in connection with a sexual assault failed to measure up to department standards, the city’s police chief said.

Chief Todd Axtell said Tuesday at a news conference where he released police bodycam video of the confrontation that he’d taken “swift, decisive and serious action” against the officer, identified by state investigators as Officer Anthony Dean.

Axtell said state law precludes him from releasing details of the action. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press, citing law enforcement sources they did not identify, reported that the officer was fired following Saturday night’s shooting of Joseph Javonte Washington.

“When I asked myself if the officer’s actions on Saturday night were reasonable and necessary,” Axtell said, “the only answer I could come up with is “No.”

St. Paul Police Federation President Paul Kuntz defended the officers involved, saying they were trying to apprehend “a violent and dangerous felon.”

“The officers worked to arrest the man using many de-escalation techniques,” Kuntz said in a statement before Axtell’s news conference. “This was a difficult situation for everyone involved.”

The union declined to confirm whether Dean had been fired. The officer’s race wasn’t immediately known.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, said Dean shot Washington, who had no weapons or other possessions when he emerged from the dumpster behind a funeral home. Washington, 31, of Lakeville, is recovering at Regions Hospital.

In the body camera footage, a female officer attempts to coax Washington out of the dumpster and onto the ground. He gets out and an officer shouts “Don’t run!” before shots are fired. Washington is bitten by a police K-9 and then screams for the dog to get off him.

It wasn’t known whether Washington had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

No officers were injured and all of those involved had been placed on a standard administrative leave following the shooting.

Washington has been charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of kidnapping, and one count of second degree assault in connection with an alleged attack several hours earlier in Lakeville.

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