Police Officer Going to Federal Prison for Excessive Force
(MN) – Officer Brett Palkowitsch, with the St. Paul Police department, received a six year sentence on May 21 of this year. Palkowitsch was found guilty, in 2019, of a civil rights violation for excessive force. He used the pandemic to stall his sentencing by refusing a video hearing. Palkowitsch had made a plea agreement of 4 – 5 years with the prosecutors. However, the judge did not agree, and sentenced Palkowitsch to six years. This means he can appeal his sentence.
Assault on Innocent Black Man
On June 24, 2016, police received a call about a fight, involving many people, at an apartment complex. The caller said “a Black man with dreadlocks and a white T-shirt” was part of the fight and had a gun. When police arrived, they did not find a fight or even any evidence of a fight. Police questioned multiple individuals who were sitting outside their apartments. All said no fight had occurred. Officers continued to look and eventually found Mr. Baker sitting in a vehicle. Frank Baker is a Black man with dreadlocks and who happened to have been wearing a white T-shirt. He did not have a gun.
The K-9 officer began screaming at Mr. Baker to get out of the vehicle. “Seven seconds later, the officer released the K-9, which took Baker to the ground and began mauling his leg.” “The K-9 was dragging Mr. Baker in circles on the pavement,” while the officers watched and Mr. Baker screamed. This is when Officer Palkowitsch arrived. He kicked Mr. Baker in the ribs three times while the K-9 continued to maul Mr. Baker’s leg.
Police Violence puts Black Man in the Hospital
According to MPRNews.org,
Baker, a concert promoter, had arrived home on the night of June 24, 2016. It was muggy in St. Paul that day, so Baker took off his dress shirt and stayed in his vehicle to make a phone call.
St. Paul police officers targeted Baker using the generic description of a Black man with dreadlocks, wearing a white T-shirt. Based on that, they allowed the K-9 to maul him and Officer Palkowitsch to assault him.
Frank Baker suffered bodily injury and was taken to the hospital. It was determined that he had a total of seven broken ribs. Those broken ribs were on both sides of his torso. In addition, both of his lungs had collapsed putting him in extreme danger. Mr. Baker also needed multiple surgeries and skin grafts to attempt to repair the damage to his leg.
Internal Affairs Investigation
Throughout the Internal Affairs investigation, Officer Palkowitsch kept insisting “his use of force was reasonable.” The determination by Internal Affairs was that Officer Palkowitsch used excessive force and had violated police department policies. Police Chief Axtell met with Officer Palkowitsch. According to the complaint, Palkowitsch “denied any wrongdoing and showed no remorse or compassion for Mr. Baker’s injuries.” Cheif Axtell fired Officer Brett Palkowitsch for police misconduct.
The Non-Compliance Excuse
Police officers keep attempting to justify their abuse by claiming the individual was not complying. But they set up scenarios where the person is incapable of complying. You can’t be yelling “drop the (whatever)” while you are tasing a person. Shooting electricity into a person’s body makes the muscles clench. They can’t let go of whatever they have. And you can’t be yelling at them to put their hands behind their back while you are tasing them. When people are suffering extreme pain, they can’t really focus on what you are saying.
In Mr. Baker’s case, the officers accused him of not complying because he kept moving and reaching toward the K-9. Well, yeah. The dog was eating his leg! Mr. Baker was in extreme pain. Of course, he was trying to sit up and get the dog away from him. Officers can’t be allowed to use normal reactions as an excuse to engage in police brutality.
Arbitration Reinstated Officer Palkowitsch
The police union fought Palkowitsch’s termination and won. Brett Palkowitsch was reinstated and given back pay. Fortunately, the Department of Justice filed civil rights violations against him. Without the DOJ, there would not have been justice for what was done to Frank Baker. “Judge Wright ordered Palkowitsch to report to federal prison on June 21.”