Duluth, Minnesota Police Officer Richard Jouppi will face criminal charges for beating a man in a detox facility last month after a review by an independent counsel. Jouppi will be charged with counts of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.
The video above does show Anthony Jackson (who was drunk) trying to push or gently slap away Jouppi who had helped him with the removal of his jacket. The officer had been called to the detox facility because Jackson violated its no drinking policy. Jackson paws at the officer’s face and that sets off a flurry of blows from Jouppi. In fairness to the officer, Jackson did try to strike him though it seems fairly gentle and was in fact deflected. There was clearly an excessive level of force used, including kneeling on the man after two blows to his head. I am also concerned with the fact that the officer charged Jackson with felony assault over the incident. We have seen many cases on this blog were officers involved in abuse have proceeded to hit the victim with a multiple charges.
Jouppi’s lawyer, Frederic Bruno, put the defense in rather startling terms: “you strike a cop, and you are in no man’s land.” I would hope that you would not be in no man’s land but within a legal system that clearly takes that force must be reasonable and commensurate. I believe that there is a reasonable defense to be made for Jouppi that, even if excessive, this does not rise to a criminal matter (though Jouppi’s own charging of Jackson with a felony undermines his claim for leniency). However, Bruno’s suggestion of a no man’s land is not going to be helpful with a court or a jury.