At a press conference Friday, St. Paul, Minnesota police chief Todd Axtell apologized to Frank Baker, an unarmed 53-year-old black man who was attacked and bitten by a police dog and kicked by an officer while he was down. “I’m disappointed and upset by what the video shows,” said Chief Axtell, who met Baker over the summer during his hospitalization, and again Friday, offering his “deepest apologies.”
He announced the suspension of the officers involved in the video, who were responding to a call of a fight in the area when they spotted a man fitting the description of someone identified by the caller and, after he didn't raise both of his hands, released his K-9 unit and told the dog to apprehend Baker, who was unarmed.
When a reporter asked why he apologized, Chief Axtell said, "Because he's a human being and I'm a human being … When we don't get things right we have to own it, we have to be transparent and we have to apologize."
Two years ago, a similar video of two white St. Paul police officers Tasing an unarmed black man at a mall lead to the early retirement of one of the officers involved.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.