Duluth Police: Complaint Against Officer 'Isn't the First'
Posted at: 09/27/2012 10:34 PM
| Updated at: 09/28/2012 9:05 AM
A Duluth police officer is on administrative leave Thursday, and he's the subject of a criminal investigation. Police said he assaulted a man after bringing him to a detoxification facility. A police report says the man was in a wheelchair.
Deputy Chief Mike Tusken told Eyewitness News this isn’t the first complaint against the officer.
Tusken said officer Richard Jouppi has been with the department for two years. He said prior to coming to the Duluth Police Department, Jouppi worked with departments in St. Paul, and Omaha, Nebraska.
At a Thursday evening news conference at the Public Safety Building, Tusken said "we have high expectations for our the conduct of our officers. If an officer tarnishes the badge we wear, we hold them accountable."
Late on the night of Friday, September 21, Tusken said Jouppi and another officer were bringing a 50-year-old Duluth man to the Center for Alcohol & Drug Treatment, when the man hit Jouppi in the face.
In a police report, the officer with Jouppi said Jouppi then “delivered a punch” to the man. The officer said “Jouppi delivered several more punches” striking the man “in the head and upper chest” before putting handcuffs on him.
In the police report, the officer then describes seeing the man “bleeding from his forehead from what appeared to be a small laceration.”
Tusken said an administrator at the detoxification center contacted police about the alleged incident on Monday, September 24. Tusken said Jouppi was put on administrative leave the next day.
Tusken said, “based on the information we have to date, it is our conclusing his [Jouppi] conduct violates our policies and procedures, and the very high standards to which the city holds our officers accountable.”
Jouppi hasn't responded to the accusations, but in his police report he describes says the man “quickly swung his left hand and struck me in the face near my left eye forehead area which caused me to experience pain.”
Jouppi’s police report goes on to says he sought to take the man “into custody and delivered two strikes” to the man’s “face as it was the only target presented to me at the time.”
Tusken said the case will be referred to an independent prosecutor Friday, and said police are recommending Jouppi be charged with misdemeanor assault.