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Fired after off-duty assault, U of M cop gets job back

ST. PAUL — A University of Minnesota police officer should have been suspended, not fired, for an aggressive off-duty encounter with a pedestrian outside a St. Paul restaurant, an arbitrator has ruled.

Phillip Lombardi was waiting to turn left on his way to lunch in July 2016 when a woman entered the crosswalk, according to the arbitrator’s report.

Lombardi motioned for the woman to hurry up and pulled his SUV forward. The woman, a St. Paul prosecutor, then kicked the front of his vehicle.

Lombardi parked and followed the woman, asking why she kicked his car. The two shouted and cursed at each other.

The woman turned to face Lombardi and may have clenched her fists, the report says. Lombardi then placed a hand on her collarbone “to push her back and create space.”

Minneapolis prosecutors, charged Lombardi with misdemeanor assault. He pleaded guilty but the conviction was removed from his record after one year of probation.

The university fired Lombardi in May 2018 following an internal affairs investigation, citing his pursuit of the woman and use of force, as well as his failure to report the incident to a supervisor or St. Paul police.

The arbitrator also recommended the officer take an anger management course.