RICHFIELD, Minn. (KMSP) - The Richfield police officer who was caught on camera hitting and pushing a teenager in the head had been previously warned about striking suspects in the head, Fox 9 confirms.
It was a routine call of suspicious activity in Adams Hill Park on Oct. 3. Richfield police were trying to clear the park, but 19-year-old Kamal Gelle didn’t want to leave. A video of the incident posted to Twitter shows a police officer pushing the young man, then moments later slapping him on the back of the head.
Richfield police said the officer is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into what actually occurred on Oct. 3.
Documents obtained by Fox 9 reveal the officer has been disciplined for this exact issue before. Three years ago he was a handcuffing a drunk man when, according to his police report, “I then escorted [suspect] to the ground, here he landed face first…” and then “delivered two elbow strikes to [suspect’s] head area and two closed fist strikes to his face area.”
The Richfield Police Department found the two head strikes were “overly excessive” and inconsistent with his training.
Six months later, the same police officer was disciplined again for use of force and removed from the SWAT team.
Head strikes are always controversial in the use of force. Many police departments, including Richfield, are trained only to use head strikes in emergencies, not when trying to get a teenager to leave a park at night as in the most recent incident.
There was a third complaint against the officer in 2009, but it was not sustained.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting an independent investigation into the events on Oct. 3. A second officer not shown in the video is also on paid administrative leave in connection with the incident.