Heroic Duluth Cop Richard Jouppi Assaults a Man in a Wheelchair

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After reportedly getting into two drunken altercations on the evening of September 21, 50-year-old Antony Jon Jackson was taken to a detox center in Duluth, Minnesota. Officer Richard Jouppi and his partner were dispatched to Jackson’s home to take him to the facility. When they arrived, the intoxicated man was in a wheelchair.

As he was being processed at the facility, Jackson was surly and uncooperative. Surveillance video captured him making vaguely hostile statements about owning guns. The female staffer, who obviously deals with intoxicated people on a regular basis, didn’t appear particularly threatened by Jackson. Jouppi’s body language conveyed impatient disgust and growing hostility.

When the staffer told Jackson to take off his coat, the inebriated middle-aged man blurted something about “throwing” it at her.

“Throw it at me, and see what happens,” replied the young woman, who obviously didn’t take the drunk’s bluster seriously. As Jackson gathered the jacket to throw it, Jouppi closed in, grabbed the smaller man’s right wrist in a control hold, and pulled his arm back behind his head. This had the predictable — and, most likely, intended — effect of provoking Jackson to swipe pitifully at Jouppi’s face. Jouppi retaliated by slugging Jackson — who was, once again, in a wheelchair — at least four times. The heroic officer then threw Jackson face-down on the floor before mounting him.

“No! Dude!” exclaimed the female staffer.

“Shut up — back up, or I’ll arrest you, too!” hissed Jouppi as he began to handcuff the victim. Feeling the weight of the staffer’s disapproval, or perhaps the residue of what was once his conscience, Jouppi immediately tried to rationalize his actions. “You don’t think people in a wheelchair can assault people?” he said to her. “Turns out he just did.”

Jouppi’s female partner, not having the strength of character displayed by Officer Regina Tasca in a very similar situation, stood quietly in the corner as the assault unfolded.

“You get in two fights in one night, and then you assault the cops? You can rot!” Jouppi taunted his victim.  “For a man who claims to be so injured he can’t do anything, you really don’t have to be such an a**hole.”

In his official report, Jouppi whined that Jackson’s feeble swat at his face — which was, once again, a response to having his arm painfully wrenched behind his neck, “caused me to feel pain. I sought to take Jackson into custody and delivered two strikes to Jackson’s face as it was the only target presented to me at the time and in order to keep him from delivering more strikes.”

From this account, Jackson was a formidable pugilist — a veritable Bas Rutten, rather than a skinny, sickly, drunken, helpless 50-year-old man in a wheelchair. Police union attorney Fredric Bruno insists that Jackson “punched” Jouppi and that his threat to throw his jacket was “terroristic” in nature. (That description is more accurately applied to Jouppi’s threat to kidnap the female staffer after she complained about the beating he had inflicted on Jackson.)

Because his unhallowed hand had touched the sanctified personage of Officer Jouppi, Jackson was originally charged with felony assault. That charge was dropped after the prosecutor reviewed the video. Jouppi — whose disciplinary problems and misconduct had resulted in a “Final and Last Chance Agreement” with the department last March — may be charged with fifth-degree misdemeanor assault for repeatedly slugging a man in a wheelchair.

Officer Jouppi, incidentally, is listed as an advisor to Duluth’s affiliate of the Police Explorers program.

3:51 pm on October 2, 2012