A 14-year-old girl walked out of court in tears Tuesday several minutes after watching squad video of herself allegedly being punched by a St. Paul police officer as she sat handcuffed in the back seat.
"I don't want to [testify]," she said on the first day of testimony in the officer's trial.
Authorities believe officer Michael P. Soucheray II physically assaulted the girl last year while trying to take her from a shelter for sexually exploited girls to a hospital due to her self-harming.
Soucheray's attorney, Peter Wold, argued that after the girl spat in his face, he used "a trained reaction" called "startle, flinch, response" to distract the girl in an act of self-defense.
Wold said that "at best," Soucheray may have scraped the side of her face.
Soucheray, 39, is charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count of misdemeanor fifth-degree assault. Assistant Minneapolis city attorney Christopher Bates is prosecuting the case to avoid conflicts of interest.
Soucheray and his partner, officer Chris Rhoades, were responding to Brittany's Place on the night of Dec. 1 for a possibly suicidal girl, according to the criminal complaint. She refused to cooperate, so they handcuffed her and placed her in the squad.
After being spat upon, Soucheray punched the girl twice in the face, the complaint said. He allegedly grabbed her by the jaw or neck and swore at her.
A 10-minute squad video played in court showed Soucheray in the back seat swing an arm at the girl, who was belted to the seat with her hands handcuffed behind her. She had just spat on him. Soucheray moved in front of the girl, and his back blocked the view during the rest of the alleged assault.
"He just punched me!" the girl screamed several times.
The girl screamed and cried as she was driven to jail. She swore at Soucheray, pleaded with him to explain his actions and complained that the handcuffs were too tight.
"… I'm going to kill myself anyway," she said at one point. "… I didn't mean to do it. I'm sorry. Please!"
The girl told Bates she had self-harmed that day, didn't want to go to the hospital and had a panic attack. She left the witness stand under cross-examination by Wold, but returned after a short break.
Wold tried to show that the girl calmed down after her arrest. He also asked if she was scraped on the face.
"I wasn't scraped," she said. "I was punched in the side of my face."
Soucheray is on paid administrative leave. Soucheray, Wold said, is married to a St. Paul officer who is a use-of-force trainer.
The Ramsey County attorney's office declined to press charges against the girl for spitting on Soucheray. Such actions can be charged as felony assault.
Testimony resumes Wednesday.