Minneapolis police officer charged with assault for kicking suspect in head

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Minneapolis police officer was charged with third-degree assault for kicking a suspect who was on his hands and knees, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Christopher Reiter, 36, was charged in connection with a May 30 incident, which was investigated by the St. Paul Police Department to avoid a conflict of interest.

“We all know that Minneapolis Police, and all police, face difficult jobs,” Freeman told reporters at a news conference. “In this case, kicking the victim in the face is deadly force and deadly force was not justified.”

According to the criminal complaint, officers were sent to a Minneapolis apartment building on a domestic assault call. The victim told police the man who assaulted her was Mohamed Osman. Officers quickly found him sitting in a vehicle parked outside the building.

Several officers ordered him to get out of the vehicle, which he did. The officers then told him to get on the ground, which he did. While the suspect was on his hands and knees, Reiter walked up to him and kicked him in the face. The man collapsed to the ground, bleeding and unconscious. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a displaced nasal bone, nasal septal fractures and a mild traumatic brain injury, the complaint states.

The witnesses, three Minneapolis police officers, and video from a nearby building confirmed that the situation did not require the use of deadly force and a kick in the head is considered deadly force, according to the complaint.

Freeman said the reason it took a while to bring the charges for two reasons. First, the case had to be transferred from the Minneapolis Police Department to the St. Paul Police Department for the investigation. Second, because Osman was the suspect in the domestic abuse case, but the victim in the assault case, investigators had to be cautious about when they talked to him so as not to jeopardize the assault case against him.

The Minneapolis Police sergeant who first came on the scene was suspicious when he saw Osman unconscious and bleeding, Freeman said. That started the investigation.

“When I talk to police officers, I think they take the oath of office seriously,” Freeman said. “I think it is telling the three officers said the force was not warranted.”

Freeman also said that more medical reports are coming in on Osman’s injuries and if the brain injury continues to affect him, the county attorney’s office could amend the complaint to first-degree assault, which carries a more severe penalty.

Criminal compliant (PDF)

Video of press conference