Recorded on police dash cam video assaulting an unarmed, innocent man, a Minnesota cop was recently convicted of using excessive force. In addition to breaking seven of the man’s ribs, the officer also caused both of his lungs to collapse.
In June 2016, St. Paul Police Officer Brett Palkowitsch and his colleagues responded to a 911 call alleging that an unidentified black male with dreadlocks and a white t-shirt had been involved in a street fight and was carrying a gun. Returning home from work and with no connection to the incident, Frank Baker, then-52 years old, was talking on his cellphone when officers ordered him out of the vehicle with his hands in the air.
According to police dash cam video, Baker stood in the parking lot when a K-9 dragged him down to the ground. As Baker screamed in pain from the dog repeatedly biting his leg, Palkowitsch kicked Baker in the ribs three times.
Palkowitsch broke seven of Baker’s ribs and caused both of his lungs to collapse, putting him in critical condition. Officers found no gun at the scene and no evidence that Baker, a 52-year-old grandfather who lived in the neighborhood, had been involved in any fight.
In 2017, the city agreed to award Baker with a $2 million settlement. Although Palkowitsch was fired for his actions, an arbitrator ruled in favor of his reinstatement.
On January 16, a federal grand jury indicted Palkowitsch for use of excessive force against Baker. Palkowitsch has been on paid administrative leave since his indictment earlier this year.
During the trial, other officers at the scene, including officers Anthony Spencer, Joseph Dick, and Brian Ficcadenti, testified that they did not consider Baker to be a threat. They also testified that Palkowitsch bragged about kicking Baker following the incident and that they saw no legitimate reason for kicking Baker.
“The behavior of the defendant will not be tolerated and the Department of Justice will seek to prosecute those who abuse their power,” stated Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “We commend the officers who came forward and brought about the opening of the investigation. We also thank our law enforcement partners who assisted in this case.”
“Law enforcement officers receive certain powers from the government so they can protect the rights of the citizens they serve,” FBI Minneapolis Special Agent in Charge, Jill Sanborn, said on Tuesday. “When an individual officer’s actions violate that trust, he or she should be held accountable which the jury confirmed with today’s verdict.”
On Tuesday, Palkowitsch was found guilty of using excessive force against Baker. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.