A supervisor at Ramsey County’s residential program for troubled boys lost his temper, grabbed a 16-year-old’s arm and used excessive force, a staff member told police.
County and state authorities refused to confirm the boy’s injury at Boys Totem Town. St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster said he fractured his left wrist during a Sept. 13 incident that prompted authorities to place the male supervisor on paid administrative leave.
According to police reports: the incident occurred about 8:15 a.m. after the boy refused to sit at a specific breakfast table and apparently balled up his right fist at the supervisor.
The supervisor grabbed the boy’s right arm, but he broke free and punched the supervisor in the side of the head with his left fist.
Four staffers “fell onto” the boy to take him to the ground, said police reports.
A 17-year veteran of the facility and a “lead responder” told police he and a male staffer were escorting the handcuffed boy to another room when the boy threatened to assault the supervisor.
The supervisor became upset, “tapped” out the lead responder and grabbed and cranked the boy’s arm too hard when he was supposed to just observe, the lead responder told police.
The boy told police the supervisor bent his wrist to the point that his fingers touched his arm.
The boy had been causing problems for some time, the supervisor told police. The supervisor said the boy was walking slowly up the stairs, so he put the boy in a “wrist lock,” something he had done “numerous times.”
The boy was taken to Regions Hospital for treatment.
County and state authorities released few details about the incident.
“There was a physical altercation and a resident had to be restrained and escorted to the special housing unit,” said Chris Crutchfield, a spokesman for Ramsey County Community Corrections.
Crutchfield declined to identify the staffer on leave, citing the ongoing investigation.
St. Paul police said the case was forwarded to the Hennepin County attorney’s office for charging consideration and was declined.
The county reported the incident the same day to the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), which licenses the facility. DOC officials declined to specify what occurred because of the active investigation. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is investigating the case, was equally vague in its response to questions about the incident.
The facility, which resembles a small summer camp in St. Paul’s Battle Creek neighborhood, has come under fire in recent years. Ramsey County judges temporarily stopped sending boys there in early 2016 due to a string of escapes and after charges were filed against a therapist for aiding the escape of two juveniles, one of whom she was sexually linked to.
DOC spokesman Aaron Swanum said the county reported the incident to the state as “assault — resident on staff.” There are no other open incident reports for the facility, he said.
Boys Totem Town houses up to 36 boys age 14 to 18 who are court ordered to treatment for “committing offenses and demonstrating risky behavioral concerns in the community,” according to the county’s website.
Reports and studies conducted by various consultants in recent years showed that staff struggled with low morale, while an average of 29 percent of boys escaped the facility annually.