St. Paul, MN — On Monday, a St. Paul police officer was charged with misdemeanor assault after he punched a handcuffed child in the face twice while she was getting placed in the back of his squad car.
Officer Michael Soucheray II has been placed on administrative duty after punching the 14-year-old girl for allegedly spitting on him. The 14-year-old was at the East Side shelter for girls when police responded to a call of a suicidal girl.
According to the criminal complaint, as reported by WCCO, officers were trying to take the girl to a hospital because she was reportedly suicidal, but she refused to go and became agitated, screaming and at one point going limp.
Because the girl, who was clearly in the midst of a psychological crisis, refused to get into an ambulance, police force was escalated.
When Soucheray told the girl that police would be taking her, the girl said she was not going and officers handcuffed her. They escorted her to a squad car, and the teen was screaming and crying, according to the complaint.
The girl then spat into Soucheray’s face, and instead of maintaining his composure, knowingly dealing with a traumatized girl in a diminished mental state, this cop grabbed her by the neck and punched her in the face — twice.
In a press release on Tuesday, Police Chief Todd Axtell noted that when police do not abide by their professional standards, “swift and decisive action is taken to hold ourselves accountable.”
However, we will see just how ‘swift and decisive’ the action is considering the fact that this officer is claiming he acted in self-defense.
Soucheray’s attorney, Peter Wold claimed that the girl, who was in handcuffs and mentally unstable, was the one who committed felony assault against the officer by spitting into his face.
Although that claim sounds outlandish, unfortunately, the law in many states says Wold is correct. When a person spits into the face of a non-cop, they can be charged with misdemeanor battery. However, if a person spits into the face of a privileged law enforcement officer, that same act becomes a felony. Seems legit.
“This charge is based on a self-defense reaction to a screaming, threatening subject immediately after she had committed a felony assault on Officer Soucheray by intentionally spitting her saliva into his face….Officer Soucheray reacted with reasonable force,” Wold continued.
“Officer Soucheray regrets the attention this political reaction may bring to his fellow officers at the St. Paul Police Department and does assure them that he will defend himself vigorously against this unfortunate action,” Wold said.
Aside from Soucheray’s attorney defending him, predictably, the police union has also taken a stand.
“We’re very disappointed that charges are moving forward,” Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president said. “Mike Soucheray is an outstanding officer with a very good reputation, and the East Side (where he was assigned to patrol) benefits from his work ethic.”
Dan Pfarr, president and CEO of 180 Degrees, of which Brittany’s Place is a program, says he’s seen lots of traumatized girls act out. However, he noted how all of the other police officers managed to remain nonviolent — until now.
“We have a long working relationship at Brittany’s Place with the St. Paul police,” Pfarr said. “They’re very critical in us keeping the girls safe. The girls have a lot of trauma they’ve experienced, and there are problematic behaviors that occur. The police are well aware of it and are trained. … We do expect them to maintain their composure under stress, and they do, they have. We believe this is an isolated incident.”