A Minnesota police officer accused of using excessive force when he repeatedly kicked an innocent Black man three years earlier is now on trial in federal court.
The prosecution argued Officer Brett Palkowitsch’s use of force against Frank Baker was unreasonable in the incident June 24, 2016, in St. Paul, according to NBC affiliate KARE.
Palkowitsch was responding to a call about a fight involving more than a dozen people when he arrived on the 1800 block of East Seventh Street, according to MPR News.
A witness told officers a man with a gun was also spotted on the scene, the radio station reported.
They came upon Baker, who allegedly matched the description, in a jeep and ordered him to get out.
When he did, officers said Baker didn’t comply with their other orders, so one of them released a police dog.
The dog bit one of Baker’s legs and held on, but the radio station reported officers still wanted Baker to turn onto his belly and put his arms up.
“The suspect flailed, turned and reached his hands toward his midsection multiple times,” the defense said in a trial brief MPR obtained. “A suspect, believed to be in possession of a gun, moving his hands toward his midsection presented a deadly threat to police officers.”
The prosecution argued officers were trained to understand that people being bitten by dogs may not comply with orders, MPR reported.
But when Baker didn’t comply, Palkowitsch reportedly kicked the man three times in his midsection.
Baker complied after the third kick, MPR reported.
Police investigation later found Baker was innocent, unarmed and had nothing to do with the fight in question, according to KARE.
The canine attack left deep gashes in his legs and he was awarded $2 million in a settlement with St. Paul, KARE reported.
Baker was sitting in his jeep talking on the phone after returning home from work when police approached him, the news station reported.
Although the police department wanted to fire Palkowitsch, an arbitrator reinstated the officer, who a grand jury later indicted, KARE reported.