St. Paul cop testifies fellow officer’s kicks unnecessary
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A St. Paul police officer testified Thursday that he believed a fellow officer’s three kicks to a suspect who was being bitten by a police dog were unnecessary.
Officer Brian Ficcadenti testified during the federal trial of Officer Brett Palkowitsch, who is charged with violating the civil rights of Frank Baker.
Ficcadenti, who released the K-9 on Baker in June 2016, testified that he regrets his actions that night and his silence until now, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
Looking back, Ficcadenti said he wouldn’t have released the dog, named Falco, so quickly to apprehend Baker, who was suspected of carrying a gun. Baker was later found to be unarmed.
Ficcadenti testified that he felt Baker was not a threat while he was in the jaws of the dog. He also said he felt Palkowitsch’s three kicks were not necessary.
But Ficcadenti has been reluctant to criticize Palkowitsch until now. Ficcadenti said he feared that if he spoke out, other officers would retaliate against him for breaking an unwritten code of silence.
Defense attorneys asked Ficcadenti if he is coming forward with this criticism now because he has immunity from prosecution.
A copy of an immunity agreement between Ficcadenti and the government was displayed in court. According to the agreement, Ficcadenti is immune from prosecution by the federal government as long as he testifies truthfully in this trial.
Defense attorney Deborah Ellis said both Palkowitsch and Ficcadenti were targets of a criminal civil rights investigation. But with the immunity deal, Ficcadenti is not in criminal jeopardy.
“It’s not a comfortable position to be in?” Ellis asked during one exchange.
“No,” Ficcadenti answered.
“More comfortable than being over here?” Ellis asked, pointing to Palkowitsch sitting at the defense table.
“Could be,” Ficcadenti said.
“Being there you’re not facing time away from your family?” Ellis added.
“No,” Ficcadenti responded.
Prosecutors say Palkowitsch’s use of force against Baker was excessive. Baker’s ribs were fractured and his lungs punctured.
Palkowitsch has pleaded not guilty. He is on paid administrative leave.
In 2017, Baker sued the city of St. Paul and settled the lawsuit for $2 million.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org