A former St. Paul police officer with a mottled history before and after he resigned from the force has been accused of slashing an acquaintance who he believed had stolen thousands of dollars worth of marijuana from his home.

Norman W. Berry, 52, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with felony drug possession and second-degree assault. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and authorities believe he fled from St. Paul to Iowa to Stockton, Calif.

Berry is alleged to have been running a marijuana-growing operation in the basement of his home in the Summit-University neighborhood, according to court documents. He was robbed of about $3,200 worth of marijuana on Nov. 28 and went looking for the victim, Courtney Bivens, the next day, the complaint said.

He caught up with Bivens Dec. 3 at the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, the complaint said. Berry walked Bivens to his vehicle and tried to get him to climb into the trunk. Bivens refused and punched Berry, who then slashed Bivens on the arm with a steak knife or kitchen knife, the complaint said.

Police searching Berry's home on Dec. 11 found marijuana and remnants of a grow operation.

The charges this week apparently are the first felonies Berry has faced in Minnesota since he resigned from the St. Paul Police Department in 1993.

His six years on the job were troubled, too. In 1992, he was suspended for 30 days after he was caught on videotape clubbing a 16-year-old boy with no apparent provocation at a Hmong New Year's celebration. In 1989, Berry was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly beating up a man while working off-duty. He was acquitted.

Berry had joined the force in 1987 after settling a lawsuit that accused officials of the Minnesota State Peace Officers Standards and Training Board of discriminating against him because he is black. He sued police supervisors in 1990 for alleged racial discrimination and again in 1994, alleging harassment and disparate treatment.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992