Officials in the northeastern Minnesota city of Duluth said Friday they want to block a police officer with a history excessive force complaints from returning to his job after releasing body camera video showed him dragging a handcuffed man "like a dog" through the city skyway system last year.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said last year's incident wasn't the first time officer Adam Huot had been disciplined of excessive force. Video released Friday of the May 2017 incident shows Huot dragging a handcuffed man about 90 feet through a hallway, causing the man to hit his head on a steel door frame. Tusken and other city official said they plan to ask the courts to reverse an arbiter's decision to reinstate Houle.
"The behavior in which you saw here does not represent the best of us," Tusken said. "When you betray public trust we cannot in this day and age of law enforcement tolerate that behavior."
The video begins with officers responding to two men laying in a stairway. It shows two officers handcuffing one man and leading him down a hallway where he falls to the ground before saying: "I ain't going to make it easy for you guys."
Huot grabbed the man's arms, which were cuffed behind his back, and began dragging him through the hallway as a third officer — whose body camera captured the incident — instructed his trainee to help pick up the man.
According to the arbitration report, the man suspected of trespassing told investigators "they dragged me like a dog."
The man, who is Native American, wasn't seriously hurt, and he wasn't charged for trespassing.
Huot, who's been with the department since 2008, also was not charged, but he was fired after an investigation. An arbitrator ruled last week that Huot could return to his job, despite finding his use of force was unreasonable. Huot has prior excessive force complaints before, including a 2014 incident in which he punched a person in the head, resulting in a one-day suspension and progressive discipline.
The Duluth Police Union said in a statement Friday that Huot's actions were inappropriate but didn't justify his firing.
"Officer Huot has accepted responsibility for his actions and is eager to return to the Department," the statement said, adding that Huot apologized to the man, his colleagues and Duluth citizens.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson called the incident "completely unacceptable," in statement Friday. "We will continue to do everything in our power to sustain this termination by pursuing all appropriate legal remedies," she said.
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