Attorney: St. Paul officer shot Black man to protect others

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A crowd gathers on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, along Rice Street near the scene where St. Paul Police shot a man earlier in the night in St. Paul, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A St. Paul officer who shot and wounded a Black man who was being sought by police when the man emerged naked from a dumpster was trying to protect his fellow officers and himself, according to his attorney.

Anthony Dean’s lawyer, Robert Paule, said the man, identified by state investigators as Joseph Javonte Washington, “claimed to have a gun and had used a knife earlier that evening in a violent assault and rape.”

“Many attempts by law enforcement to de-escalate the situation using a variety of non-lethal methods were unsuccessful and the suspect did not cooperate,” Paule said in a statement Wednesday.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press, citing law enforcement sources they did not identify, reported that Dean was fired following Saturday night’s shooting. The officer’s race wasn’t immediately known.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said Tuesday he took “swift, decisive and serious action” against the officer, but said state law precluded him from releasing details. Axtell said the officer’s actions weren’t “reasonable and necessary” and the officer failed to measure up to department standards.

Washington, who authorities said was naked and unarmed when he emerged from the dumpster, remained hospitalized Wednesday. He has been charged with sexual assaulting, kidnapping and assaulting an ex-girlfriend, which led to the manhunt for him in St. Paul.

It wasn’t known whether Washington had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation said there were no weapons found at the site of the shooting or in the dumpster.

In body camera video released by police, and officer attempts to coax Washington out of the dumpster and onto the ground. He gets out and an officer shouts “Don’t run!” before shots are fired. Washington is bitten by a police K-9 and then screams for the dog to get off him.

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