Officer apologizes for profane encounter in Facebook video
WARNING: The video embedded within this article contains strong language that some might find offensive. The officer's video response can be seen by viewing comments to the original video.
ST. PAUL -- A St. Paul police officer has apologized for his behavior in a Facebook video recorded Thursday afternoon.
The 34-second video, which was posted by Facebook user Andrew Casey shortly after 1 p.m., begins in the middle of a confrontation between Casey and officer Benny Williams, who was on duty but dressed in plain clothes.
“This guy works for the — some police department,” Casey can be heard saying at the beginning of the video. “Because he shoved his (expletive) badge in my face.”
“Exactly, I work for St. Paul police, (expletive),” Williams replied.
“And this is a class act, man,” Casey said.
Williams then approached Casey and said, “Put it in my face, I’m gonna slap you down, (expletive),” apparently in reference to Casey’s recording device.
As Williams turned and walked back to his car, Casey can be heard saying that Williams spit on him and hit him.
Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul Police Department spokesman, said Williams is a member of the department’s missing persons unit and was searching for a vulnerable adult when the encounter with Casey took place.
About 4:30 p.m., the Police Department posted Casey’s video on its own Facebook page, along with a video apology from Williams.
“I said a lot of things that I shouldn’t have said, and it was very unprofessional on my part,” Williams said in the video. “I want to apologize to this individual. It does not represent who I am or my organization, the St. Paul Police Department.”
Neither Casey’s nor the Police Department’s Facebook post addressed how the confrontation began or where it took place.
Police Chief Todd Axtell also sent a department-wide email Thursday afternoon addressing the video, saying Williams’s behavior “falls far short” of his agency’s standards.
“I am disappointed in the conduct depicted in the original video,” Axtell wrote. “However, I am also incredibly proud of how our officer has chosen to respond to this incident. His response has been honorable and truly representative of the Saint Paul way.”
Williams is the subject of an open internal affairs investigation, Ernster said. However, in accordance with state law, Ernster said he could not disclose whether the investigation is related to the incident depicted in the video.
Casey did not immediately respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.