A federal complaint claims that St. Paul police used unnecessary and excessive force during the arrest of a sexual assault suspect in 2020, who had crawled out of a trash nude and defenseless, and was then shot by an officer and bitten by a K-9.
According to the civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court in St. Paul on Monday by Joseph Javonte Washington’s attorney Zorislav Leyderman, Joseph Javonte Washington, 33, has suffered physical and emotional pain and trauma, as well as permanent physical injuries and medical bills, as a result of the incident.
The complaint names St. Paul, officer Colleen Rooney, and retired officer Anthony Dean as defendants. It asks a trial by jury to establish the amount of damages.
In addition to civil rights violations, the complaint alleges battery and negligence when Rooney released the K-9 to apprehend Washington “without a proper warning” and Dean fired his gun at him “without cause.”
Wednesday calls to Leyderman for comment on the complaint were not responded.
Sergeant Mike Ernster, a spokesperson for the St. Paul Police Agency, said that the department could not comment on ongoing litigation and referred the subject to City Attorney Lyndsey Olson. She did not react to comments inquiries.
Kamal Baker, the press secretary for Mayor Melvin Carter, said that the city is aware of the file but has not yet been served. Baker said, “As with any complaint, we will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the facts and reply to the court.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted an investigation into the event, while the Minnesota attorney general’s office assessed the case to determine whether or not Dean should be charged.
Dean, who fired four times at Washington, was not charged after the attorney general’s office determined last year that Washington “abruptly jumped” out of a dumpster where he was hiding and the officer reported he could not determine whether Washington was holding a weapon.
Former Police Chief Todd Axtell dismissed Dean immediately after the incident, pending the outcome of a grievance procedure. Dean is no longer employed by the police department, according to Ernster on Wednesday.
Why Was He Inside A Dumpster?
Police were hunting for Washington in St. Paul’s North End on November 28, 2020, after criminal charges claimed he sexually abused a former girlfriend and threatened to murder her in Lakeville earlier that evening.
That evening, officers located Washington hiding in a garbage in an alley between Rice Street and Magnolia Avenue. The police used Pepperball, a substance with a similar effect to pepper spray, to get him to come out.
The AG’s case report states that when Washington, who was nude and unarmed, fled the trash, he “sprinted” toward cops and ended up only feet from a sergeant. Body camera video revealed that about one second after Washington rounded the curve toward them, Dean fired his pistol three times.
After Dean shot, Washington fell to the ground and was instantly bitten by a police K-9. The letter said that as Washington attempted to fend off the dog, Dean fired a fourth shot.
Washington had gunshot wounds to the midsection and upper legs, in addition to dog attacks to the legs.
The complaint filed this week claims that Dean, Rooney, and other officers saw Washington “leave the dumpster in response to demands” and “try to surrender to law police.”
Criminal proceedings against the Apple Valley resident Washington are pending.
The office of the Dakota County attorney charged Washington with first-degree criminal sexual conduct creating fear of serious bodily harm, first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a deadly weapon, first-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, abduction, and second-degree assault.
According to the complaint, he used the woman’s phone to broadcast footage to her Facebook and Snapchat accounts throughout the sexual assault. Multiple text messages from her pals informed her of the broadcast.
According to the criminal complaint, Washington compelled the victim to drive to St. Paul while at times putting a knife to her neck. Eventually, he seized the steering wheel, resulting in a collision. He ran.
According to a first-degree burglary accusation filed against him in Ramsey County, “a short distance away, Washington smashed through a screen door and entered an inhabited house.”
Officers later discovered him hiding in a dumpster.