St. Paul police officers hit with bear pepper spray when responding to juvenile street brawl
Police officers who responded to a group of more than 50 juveniles blocking the road in St. Paul's Payne-Phalen area were sprayed with bear pepper spray Wednesday night. There were 21 arrests made.
Police officers who responded to a group of more than 50 juveniles blocking the road in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen area were sprayed with bear pepper spray Wednesday night. There were 21 arrests made.
About 7:10 p.m., officers received a call about a group gathered at Rose Avenue and Greenbrier Street with two females fighting in the middle of the intersection, according to a police report.
St. Paul and Metro Transit officers are part of a crime prevention detail, patrolling where there have been higher crime rates and reports of large groups of juveniles and young adults “creating concerns for residents and businesses because they’re committing … crimes,” said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.
The team arrived to Rose and Greenbrier on a Metro Mobility bus. As the uniformed officers got off the bus, people started screaming “12, 12,” which is slang for “police,” and running away, Linders said.
Someone immediately discharged bear pepper spray, and two St. Paul officers and three Metro Transit officers were sprayed in the face and chest, according to Linders. “It limited their vision and hindered their ability to do their job,” he said.
Dave Titus, St. Paul police union president, said incapacitating officers in that way was an “outrageously dangerous” situation for them.
Officers detained a group of juveniles near the intersection. They found a cellphone video of the disturbance, identified more people who were involved and arrested additional people in the area, Linders said.
Police arrested 18 juveniles and two adults on suspicion of third-degree riot and another individual for fleeing police on foot, Linders said. The juveniles arrested ranged from 12 to 18 years old.
Paramedics responded and assisted in flushing out the officers’ eyes, according to Linders. No injuries were reported among the people gathered, he said.
“It should be noted that through the summer months, the police department gets numerous calls for service related to juveniles fighting,” Linders said. “In the past, we’ve had reports of weapons being used, such as handheld tasers, Mace and knives. Some participants have sustained injuries, and public and private property has been damaged.”
Titus said he’s frustrated by what he’s seeing.
“We have some youth in our city that just have zero parental guidance and have no respect for each other and themselves and certainly, in this climate, not for law enforcement,” Titus said. “It’s this type of incident with small bands of youth creating these riot-type conditions that happens far too frequently and no one seems to care about it.”