From [HERE] A judge refused to overturn a ruling that gave a white Duluth police officer his job back after he was fired for dragging a handcuffed Native American man through the downtown Duluth skywalk system in May 2017.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden denied the city’s motion to vacate an arbitration award reinstating officer Adam Huot. City officials moved to terminate Huot, a nine-year veteran with a history of excessive-force complaints, in wake of the incident, but the Duluth Police Union contested the move.
Hylden, in a 14-page order dated Friday, Dec. 28, was critical of Huot’s actions but said he did not have grounds under existing case law to override the arbitration process that is mandated in the collective-bargaining agreement between the city and its officers.
Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said the decision will be appealed.
Officer Adam Huot, a nine-year veteran with a history of excessive-force complaints, was terminated by the Duluth Police Department in wake of the May 2017 incident in which he was captured on video pulling an intoxicated man approximately 100 feet through the downtown skywalk system.
The Duluth Police Union later filed a grievance, acknowledging that Huot's actions "were inappropriate and reflected poorly on all police officers," but contending that the incident did not warrant termination.
Arbitrator Mario Bognanno agreed in June, giving Huot his job back, without the benefit of back pay for the year he was on unpaid leave. While calling the officer's actions "unreasonable" and noting his history of disciplinary action, the arbitrator said the department failed to show "just cause" for termination.
The issue came before Judge Eric Hylden on Monday, Sept. 1, with Police Chief Mike Tusken and several union officials in attendance at the St. Louis County Courthouse.
Susan Hansen, a Twin Cities attorney retained by the city, told the judge that Huot has "demonstrated a proclivity" to violate the social contract between police and the community and "undermined the mission of the DPD and his performance as a police officer for the DPD."
"Returning Adam Huot to his position violates the public's trust and subjects them to unreasonable use of force, unreported police misconduct and abuse of authority by those sworn to protect and serve them," Hansen argued.
According to arbitration and court documents, Huot was the subject of 12 complaints during his tenure, six of which were substantiated. Tusken testified that no other officer in his 155-member department necessitated as much oversight, coaching, training and discipline as Huot.
Huot in 2014 received a one-day suspension after repeatedly punching a man who had escaped from a mental health unit. Among other incidents, he was also disciplined for a "confrontational" response to a call involving four of five youths, in which he ended up wrestling one boy to the ground.
In the May 2017 skywalk incident, Huot was one of three officers called to remove two men from the building. Body camera footage shows one man, 30-year-old Brandon Houle, dropping to the ground and telling officers, "I ain't gonna make it easy for you guys."
Within seconds, without consulting his fellow officers, Huot is seen grabbing Houle by the chain on his handcuffs and forcibly dragging him down the hallway. Houle's head narrowly misses one post before striking the door with a loud thud. Houle, who is Native American and was homeless at the time, suffered a bump on the head but was not otherwise injured.
The video does not show Huot checking on Houle or inquiring about his condition. He also did not report the use-of-force incident to his supervisors. His fellow officers, who said they were left "shocked" by Huot's actions, did so later in the same shift. [MORE]