ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - In a brief media appearance Friday afternoon, St. Paul Police Federation President Paul Kuntz called the firing of five St. Paul police officers "outrageous" and criticized Chief Axtell for his decision.
Thursday, Axtell announced five officers would be terminated for "significant" policy violations, which stemmed from an incident last year when an assault happened in front of officers, but they did not intervene. FOX 9 later learned from a source the incident involved former St. Paul Officer Tou Cha, who was later charged in the assault.
Kuntz, however, claims the narrative is different than what Axtell presented.
"The chief should know better," said Kuntz. "He has given an incomplete and false narrative, forcing the media to fill in the blanks. He has placed these officers in danger. In fact, the facts of these cases are far, far different than those broadcast by Chief Axtell."
Kuntz said due to Axtell's statements, the officers will no longer be able to have "unbiased and genuine due process".
"The facts in no way support termination of these five officers and to try the cases in the court of public opinion at a stage where the officers are unable to defend themselves is such a serious breach of his responsibility as chief law enforcement officer in this city," he said.
Kuntz also called for an investigation into who within the police administration may have confirmed the names of the police officers to the media.
Kuntz did not take questions from the media following his statement.
The federation plans to fight the firings. The process can go to arbitration and a grievance can be filed within 22 days. As of now, no date has been set.
Chief Axtell released the following statement in response to the federation:
“My administration values accountability, transparency, trust and honesty. These are our guiding principles. As we have proven time and time again, we do not deviate from them, which is why the untrue allegations made by the Federation are so disappointing.
“But we will not let this distract us from continuing to do our jobs with integrity, purpose and a commitment to the community and our officers.
“I look forward to hearing the Federation’s position on this matter once they have taken the initiative to request and review the investigative files.”