November 27, 2017
Minnesota – A St. Paul officer acquitted last spring of assault against a handcuffed teenage girl has resigned from the police department.
Michael Soucheray’s last day as a St. Paul officer was Friday, according to police department records. He told the department he was resigning for personal reasons.
The police department had two internal affairs investigations into Soucheray, which will not move forward because he is no longer a city employee, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.
One investigation was opened shortly after the incident with the teen in December and one after his trial. The police department said there is not public information about the investigations because they were not completed due to his resignation.
Peter Wold, an attorney who represented Soucheray at his trial, said he does not know why the officer resigned.
“I’m sorry for the St. Paul police department,” Wold said Monday. “They lost a great cop, a great cop.” Soucheray could not be reached for comment on Monday.
A jury acquitted Soucheray of fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, on May 4.
On Dec. 1, officers had been called to a St. Paul shelter for sexually exploited teens to take one of the residents to a hospital after she tried to harm herself, according to authorities.
Soucheray was accused of punching the handcuffed 14-year-old girl in the face after she spat at him. A jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before acquitting Soucheray, who had been a St. Paul officer since 2009.
At the time, Soucheray said, “I’m glad this is over with and that I can go back to work for St. Paul.”
The police department had placed Soucheray on a leave of absence after he was charged in January and allowed him to return to work May 13, though he was serving in an administrative role and was not on patrol, Linders said.
Soucheray did not have a settlement agreement with the city to resign, Linders said.
After Soucheray was acquitted, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote in a department-wide email that squad video of the incident “is troubling.”
“The officer’s actions do not in any way, shape or form reflect or align with our values, expectations or mission,” Axtell said in a separate statement. “When this issue was first brought to my attention, I took immediate action and asked another agency to review the matter. It was not a decision I took lightly, and it was the right thing to do — in the interest of transparency, trust and holding ourselves to the highest standards.”
During the trial, Wold argued that the officers were doing the work on Dec. 1 that counselors at the shelter couldn’t do — trying to calm a hysterical, reportedly suicidal teenager and get her to a hospital.
In the midst of it, Wold said, the girl spat at the officer, causing his training to kick in. Soucheray employed a tactic Wold called “startle, flinch and respond,” to defend himself and de-escalate the situation.
The maneuver involves feigning a strike to someone’s face, causing them to flinch and back away. That’s what Soucheray was doing, Wold said, when he raised his hand toward the girl. Wold noted that the girl suffered no injuries and no marks on her face.