A St. Paul police officer was charged Monday with punching a 14-year-old girl twice in the face after she spit on him while handcuffed in the back of a squad car.
Officer Michael Soucheray II faces a charge of misdemeanor assault.
He was put on paid leave Monday.
His attorney, Peter Wold, said in a statement that Soucheray pushed the girl away and that he was acting in self-defense after the girl committed felony assault by spitting into Soucheray’s face.
Officer Michael Soucheray II (above) was charged Monday with punching a 14-year-old girl twice in the face after she spit on him while handcuffed in the back of a squad car
‘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,’ Wold said.
‘Officer Soucheray pushed her away by striking her with such little force that not even a mark appeared on her in the booking photo of her taken within an hour of the incident.’
He says Soucheray, 38, reacted with reasonable force.
‘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.
According to the criminal complaint, officers were called to a St. Paul shelter for sexually exploited girls after they received a report that a 14-year-old staying there was suicidal.
The officers drove to the shelter, Brittany’s Place, with the intent of rushing the girl to the hospital, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Initially, they had hoped to have her transported to the hospital by ambulance, but instead the officers decided to drive her themselves after she became rowdy and uncooperative.
As the officers took her into custody, she refused to go and became agitated, screaming and at one point going limp.
Soucheray eventually pulled her into the squad car and sat her up. At one point, the girl stood up and spit on him.
Soucheray then punched the girl twice and grabbed her by the jaw or neck area, the complaint said.
According to the criminal complaint, Soucheray and other officer were called to Brittany’s Place (above), a St. Paul shelter for sexually exploited girls after they received a report that a 14-year-old staying there was suicidal
When he grabbed her, he is alleged to have called her ‘a f***ing b***h,’ according to St. Paul Pioneer Press.
An internal affairs investigation was opened the day after the incident, and Soucheray was assigned to an administrative role that didn’t include patrol, said police spokesman Steve Linders.
The St. Paul chief of police, Todd Axtell, ordered Soucheray to be placed on paid administrative leave Monday, according to the Pioneer Press.
Axtell said in a statement that when incidents occur that do not meet high professional standards, ‘swift and decisive action is taken to hold ourselves accountable.’
Todd Axtell (above), the St. Paul chief of police who ordered Soucheray placed on leave, said Monday that ‘swift and decisive action is taken to hold ourselves accountable’
Police records show Soucheray has been reprimanded three times previously, including for preventable squad car crashes in 2016 and 2014 and for failing to attend a scheduled court trial in 2012, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president, said Soucheray is an outstanding officer and the union is disappointed that he’s been charged.
Dan Pfarr, the president and CEO of 180 Degrees, a community initiative that oversees Brittany’s Place, said that the shelter houses traumatized young girls with behavioral abnormalities.
Nonetheless, St. Paul police officers should know to show restraint when dealing with them, he said.
‘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.’