Former Duluth police officer Richard Jouppi, who was acquitted of assault charges after he was captured on video striking an intoxicated man in a wheelchair in September 2012, has officially been dismissed from the force.

An attorney for the Duluth Police Union Local 807 informed the city Friday that the union has withdrawn its grievance against the city over Jouppi’s dismissal, according to Assistant City Attorney Steven Hanke.

Duluth Police Union President Tom Maida said it was the union board’s ultimate decision to drop the grievance, but declined to address the specifics of the situation. He said the decision was not made lightly, and came after discussions with Jouppi and his attorney.

“The fact that the jury acquitted Rich is a significant thing and we think that speaks volumes,” Maida said. “We also disagreed with the way the administration handled the whole thing. But the union board met and decided that, at this time, it is in our best interest to drop the grievance.”

There were no settlement agreements made between Jouppi and the city, and he will not receive any severance payments, Hanke said. He said the city is unable to provide any information on the nature of the grievance.

Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay issued a statement to the News Tribune in response to a request for comment.

“Richard Jouppi’s actions were not consistent with department training or policy; bringing discredit to our department and detracting from the excellent work our police officers do on a daily basis,” he said. “Ultimately, he was afforded his due process and this is a fair and just outcome.

“Myself and members of the Duluth Police Department believe community relationships are of the utmost importance and we are dedicated to working closely with our community members to continue to build, trust, respect and support.”

Jouppi was fired on Oct. 15, 2012, for four violations of department policies and a “Final and Last Change Agreement” he had signed, according to personnel documents released to the News Tribune Friday. While department officials announced that Jouppi had been removed from active duty after the incident, the exact nature of his punishment could not be made public until “final disposition of disciplinary action” under state law.

Jouppi, who joined the force in January 2010, was involved in an altercation with 50-year-old Anthony Jon Jackson at the Duluth Detoxification Center on Sept. 21, 2012. Video of the incident shows Jouppi struggling to remove a jacket from Jackson, who was seated in a wheelchair.

Jackson swiped at Jouppi’s face, striking him near the eye. Jouppi responded by throwing five closed-fist punches at Jackson’s head and pulling him to the ground in the wheelchair.

Ramsay denounced Jouppi’s actions and proclaimed at a press conference that the department would do everything in its power to keep Jouppi off the force.

A felony assault charge against Jackson was dropped by the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, while an outside prosecutor brought misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges against Jouppi. The former officer was acquitted by a jury in November on both counts at a trial held in Pine County.

In firing Jouppi, police administration charged him with “severe breaches” of the department’s code of conduct, use of force policy and evidence operations manual, along with his last chance agreement, which stipulated that: “Any future acts or omissions which violate public trust and/or violate (police policy) will be deemed an act of gross insubordination justifying termination.”

Maida said the dismissal of the grievance does not mean that union members agreed with Jouppi’s firing. He said issues still need to be addressed.

“It in no way reflects what we believe the merits of the grievance were,” Maida said. “We still have some concerns with things that were said and how it was handled in the initial stages of the investigation. I wouldn’t say those concerns have been fully relieved yet.”

Maida said he’s hopeful that the dismissal of the grievance will allow the union to have discussions administration about the handling of any future incidents.

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