A St. Paul police officer charged with punching a potentially suicidal 14-year-old girl in the face pleaded not guilty Thursday.

In December, Michael P. Soucheray II and another St. Paul police officer responded to a report of a girl who was possibly suicidal at a shelter for sex trafficking victims. According to the complaint, police were called to Brittany's Place, a shelter for sexually exploited girls from 10 to 17 years old regarding a possibly suicidal girl. She refused to speak with Soucheray when he arrived at the scene.

The girl didn't want to go to the hospital, became agitated and refused to get in an ambulance. Soucheray told her that he and his partner, officer Chris Rhoades, would take her there instead. They handcuffed her and escorted her to their squad car, but she refused to get in.

The girl "was screaming and crying throughout this process," the complaint said.

Soucheray pulled her into the squad. At some point afterward, the girl spat in his face.

"The defendant then struck [the girl] two times in the face with a closed fist causing her pain," the complaint said. "The defendant also grabbed [her] by the jaw and/or face/neck area. The defendant called [her] a [expletive] [expletive]."

She stood up and spat in Soucheray's face, and he responded by punching her in the face twice, grabbing her by the jaw and swearing at her, the complaint states. Soucheray, 38, of Woodbury, was charged with misdemeanor fifth-degree assault and has been on administrative leave.

"Mike wants to get back to work," said his attorney, Peter Wold, who asked for a speedy trial Thursday. Soucheray's pretrial date is scheduled for April 10.

Jessie Van Berkel • 612-673-4649

Twitter: @jessvanb