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St. Paul Police Chief announces termination of 5 officers for not intervening in assault

June 17, 2019 12:01 PM

At a news conference Thursday, the St. Paul Police Department announced the termination of five officers. 

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said he would not give out specific details on the matter, citing privacy laws, but stated his objection to the events that led to the terminations.

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"It involved deceit and went against everything I stand for and what we stand for as a department," Axtell said Thursday afternoon.

Axtell did not identify the officers.

But a source identified them as Nicholas Grundei, Robert Luna, Christopher Rhoades, Nathan Smith and Jordan Wild.

Axtell said the five officers failed to intervene in a physical altercation that occurred while the officers were responding to a call about the incident. 

Axtell said the incident "should never have happened," as someone was assaulted in front of authorities. 

"To our community, I'm sorry. This should never have happened," he said. "This is a disappointing day for our department."

He added this was a "violation of trust."

Source: Termination of 5 St. Paul police officers stems from assault in June of last year

Paul Kuntz, president of the St. Paul Police Federation, would not comment on the firings. However, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has obtained his message to union members, which reads as follows:

"Members,

"I wanted to send you all an email regarding Chief Axtell's decision to fire five of our members. Be confident I, along with our attorney, Chris Wachtler, will do everything within the grievance process, to ensure these officers have a thorough defense against this outrageous punishment.  I believe the punishment imposed is neither fair nor appropriate under the given circumstances and I am extremely disappointed with the Chief's decision. The Chief speaks of transparency but cannot be transparent with his own employees leaving these officers in limbo for a year.

"I too am frustrated with this decision, but we must remember not to be rash and act out of those frustrations as this will not enhance our defense of those officers who were so clearly wronged.  There is no better time than now to come together and be united with our brothers and sisters.

"God Bless You All

"Paul Kuntz."

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued the following statement on the incident: 

"I fully support and appreciate Chief Axtell's leadership and the work of our PCIARC to enforce strong ethical standards in our police department," said Mayor Carter. "While the vast majority of our officers meet and exceed these standards every day, the trust we place in them demands accountability for actions that fall below our high expectations."

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Tommy Wiita

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