Fired St. Paul officer's attorney claims suspect said he had a gun

The attorney for a St. Paul Police officer who was fired following a police shooting Saturday night described the incident from his officer’s point of view and asked the community to “withhold judgement” on the case.

Officer Tony Dean was fired this week by Chief Todd Axtell after the Saturday night encounter in which Dean shot and hospitalized a man wanted for a suspected sexual assault and burglary earlier in the evening. The firing caused mixed reactions from the St. Paul community

In a statement Wednesday, attorney Robert Paule said the body camera footage, released Tuesday, did not show the “many attempts” of non-lethal de-escalation used by officers before the suspect was shot.

Paule said the suspect claimed to have a gun while he was hiding in a dumpster and that he "charged at retreating officers" after exiting the dumpster.

"At this point, Officer Dean was acting as a cover officer and discharged his firearm to protect his fellow officers and himself," Paule said in the statement. He said his client had information at the time that the suspect claimed to have a gun and had used a knife earlier in the evening.

“It is our hope the community withhold judgement of these actions until a complete and thorough investigation is completed,” Paule ended the statement.

In a press conference Tuesday, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said the officer fell short of the department’s standards for use of deadly force. 

"When I asked myself if the officer’s actions on Saturday night were reasonable and necessary, the only answer I could come up with was no," Axtell said. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the police shooting.

Ramsey County prosecutors are passing the case off to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and the Washington County Attorney’s Office for a charging decision due to a potential conflict of interest.