Five St. Paul Police Officers Fired for Failing To Intervene in Assault by Ex-Cop     

On June 11, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell fired five police officers for failing to intervene to stop an ex-cop from beating another man with a baton at a bar last summer.[1]

On Sunday, June 14, Chief Axtel held a press conference to announce these firings over what was an “ugly day in our department’s history.”  He added that this was “a violation of trust, deceit and significant policy violation. . . .Our officers have the duty and obligation at the very least to adhere to our professional standards, and officers are expected to intervene when violent criminal acts occur in their presence. Officers are expected to protect the vulnerable. And officers are expected — I demand that officers tell the truth. When officers fail to live up to these standards it affects everyone who wears a badge and has earned the privilege and the honor to wear this uniform, and that’s why I’ve taken this action. This community deserves to know that its St. Paul police officers will always do the right thing and will always tell the truth.”

The decision to fire the officers was made after an investigation by the department’s internal affairs unit, and after recommendations by the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission.

The St. Paul police union, the St. Paul Police Federation, according to its attorney, Chris Wachtler, will challenge the firings. “We don’t believe the facts of the case warrant any termination of the five officers, and we will fully exercise our rights under the collective bargaining agreement.” Wachtler also said he believed that Chief Axtell violated the Minnesota Data Practices Act by revealing details of the case during the news conference.


This action in St. Paul underscores the importance of the pending “aiding and abetting” criminal case against three Minneapolis policemen for failure to intervene to stop Officer Derek Chauvin’s using his knee to pin George Floyd to the pavement and allegedly causing Floyd’s death.[2]


[1] Nelson & Furst, Five St. Paul police officers fired for failing to intervene in assault by ex-cop, StarTribune (June 14, 2020).

[2] The Criminal Complaints Against the Other Three Policemen Involved in George Floyd’s Death, (June 14, 2020).


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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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