Reduced charges in gun case causes division between prosecutors, St. Paul police union

The St. Paul Police Federation is pushing back after the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office decided to reduce charges against a man who pointed a gun in the direction of officers when he answered the door during a police encounter in January.

The Federation argues Asad Mohamud Ibrahim pointed the gun at the officers, putting them in danger.

In January, Ibrahim was charged with two felonies, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and threats of violence with reckless disregard of risk. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said after reviewing the body camera footage, prosecutors decided they only had enough evidence to support a lesser charge.

“What’s articulated in the police report is that the gun was pointed at the police officer. Our prosecutor concluded that couldn’t be completely corroborated,” Choi said.

The St. Paul Police Federation criticized the decision, saying the county attorney failed to appropriately charge a crime that put their officers in danger.

“The resolution to this case is unacceptable,” said St. Paul Police Federation President Paul Kuntz during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office deviated from its own policy, resulting in a flawed and troubling resolution to this case.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says the original charges would have been difficult to prove in court.

“The way they would like us to handle this case is without regard to our ethical obligations,” said Choi. “That’s not right.”

According to court documents, just before 3 a.m. Jan. 25, police officers responded to a loud music complaint on the 1100 Supornick Lane in St. Paul. After an officer knocked on the door, Ibrahim opened the door while holding a black handgun.

The charges say the gun “pointed straight out at the same height as [the officer’s] head as if [Ibrahim] were going to shoot whomever had knocked on the door.” The officer backed away, “fearing for his life” and Ibrahim returned to the doorway without the gun.

Officers arrested Ibrahim, who told police that he had a permit-to-carry issued out of Texas and that’s how he opens the door in Texas when “you do not know who is knocking.” Later investigation showed the gun was stolen out of Texas.

Choi says the prosecutor filed the original charges before the officers’ body camera videos were available. After watching the videos and learning the original charges could potentially cause Ibrahim to be deported, the prosecutor recommended the charges should be amended.

“That’s exactly what a prosecutor is supposed to do, they are supposed to think about doing the right thing, despite the fact that a victim or special interest wants you to handle a case in a different way,” said Choi.

The Federation, however, argues the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office policy to consider collateral consequences is “flawed and unsafe.”

“Decisions like this one, which ignores the realities of violent crime committed with a gun, put the citizens of Ramsey County and its law enforcement officers in greater danger and needs to be re-examined,” said Kuntz.

According to online court records, he was sentenced to 60 days of home monitoring, a $3,000 fine and will need to write an apology letter to the officers who responded.