St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell has fired the officer who shot and wounded an unarmed Black man who was wanted in connection with a kidnapping and assault Saturday night.
In a brief news conference, Axtell announced that he took "swift, decisive and serious" action against the officer, who failed to uphold department standards, after reviewing his body camera footage from the incident. Although state law prevents him from saying exactly what that action was, two law enforcement sources confirmed the officer's firing Tuesday.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) identified the officer as Anthony Dean, a six-year veteran of the force. They identified the man he wounded as Joseph Javonte Washington, 31, of Lakeville.
In the body camera footage released Tuesday, a female officer attempts to coax Washington, who is naked, out of a dumpster and onto the ground. At some point, he gets out of the dumpster and an officer shouts "Don't run!" before four shots are fired and Washington is bitten by a police K-9 and then screams for the dog to get off him. No weapons can be seen.
"He wasn't wearing clothing and he had no possessions," Axtell said of the wounded man. "When I ask if the officer's actions on that night were reasonable and necessary, the only answer I can come up with is 'No.' "
Investigators never found any weapons at the site of the shooting or within the dumpster, the BCA said.
Washington remains in stable condition at Regions Hospital. He suffered three gunshot wounds to the leg and one to the abdomen, along with a dog bite, according to emergency dispatch audio.
Washington was wanted in connection with a kidnapping, sexual assault and aggravated assault earlier that evening and has since been charged in Dakota County Court with multiple felonies.
The police shooting occurred about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, more than an hour after officers responded to the city's North End on a report that a man had attacked his ex-girlfriend with a knife in a car that crashed on Maryland Avenue and Rice Street.
Naked and carrying a steak knife, Washington fled the scene and reportedly broke into a St. Paul home. Emergency dispatch audio indicated that he stole some orange juice.
Sometime later, police tracked him to an alley by Bradshaw Funeral Home, where he was hiding inside the dumpster. At one point, an officer relayed to dispatch: "He's yelling that he's got a gun."
Officers discussed using nonlethal rounds of "pepper ball" — a chemical irritant — and tried to talk Washington out of the dumpster.
One officer instructed the others not to chase Washington if he ran, according to emergency dispatch audio.
"Joseph, come on out. Climb out of the dumpster," a female officer is heard saying in the body camera footage. "There you go."
When he emerges, he appears to run and officers deploy Tasers and a K-9 to stop him. Dean fired three shots, paused, then fired one more after the dog bit Washington.
Police called for paramedics and applied two tourniquets in an attempt to stop his bleeding, according to the audio.
"As you can see, this video is incredibly difficult to watch because I know lives have been altered, a person has been shot … and an officer who has served honorably in the past has had his life changed forever," Axtell said, emphasizing that as "police officers we have a duty to use force only when required."
Mayor Melvin Carter praised the chief for the speed at which he released the video, saying that elected officials owe residents "the highest standard of professionalism, of accountability and of transparency at all times."
None of the responding officers was injured, and all those involved were placed on standard administrative leave. Those include Jacob Pederson, a six-year veteran who discharged his Taser, Colleen Rooney, a nine-year veteran who unleashed her K-9, and two others who have yet to be named pending BCA interviews. An internal investigation is underway.
Dean's dismissal comes nearly 17 months after the chief fired five officers who stood by as an ex-cop assaulted a civilian outside an East Side bar in what he later called an "ugly day in our department's history."
Arbitration has upheld at least two of those terminations. The others are still pending.
Tyrone Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council, applauded Axtell's decision, saying that community members deserve better from their police.
"This continues to shine a light on the narrative that the humanity of Black men is not valued," said Terrill. "There will be people who say he had a criminal record. I'm not disputing that. But take him to jail. Let him have his day in court."
St. Paul Police Federation President Paul Kuntz defended the officers involved, saying that they kept the public safe while trying to apprehend "a violent and dangerous felon."
"The officers worked to arrest the man using many de-escalation techniques," Kuntz said in a statement several hours before Axtell's news conference. "This was a difficult situation for everyone involved."
A spokeswoman for the federation declined further comment after the body camera footage was released.
Meanwhile, Twin Cities law enforcement braced for how citizens might react to the footage Tuesday. St. Paul officers received an alert Tuesday canceling all upcoming vacation time.
Although the notice did not specify a reason, officers believe it is in preparation for potential unrest.
The BCA is conducting the investigation into the shooting. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has asked the Minnesota attorney general and the Washington County attorney to review the case once the investigation is complete.
"This request was made on Monday to further trust and confidence in the prosecutorial decisions that will be made in this matter moving forward," his office said. "Thus, to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest, [we believe] it is important for another office that does not regularly work with the SPPD to make the prosecutorial decisions in this matter."