District Court Stands By Arbitrator’s Decision to Reinstate Duluth Police Officer

Officer Adam Huot was suspended for a use of force incident on May 20, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. – “The behavior and what you saw here does not represent the best of us and as a result I felt very strongly, I do feel very strongly that when you betray public trust that we cannot in this day and age in law enforcement tolerate that behavior,” said Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken during a press conference on June 29, 2018.

Tusken and other city officials called for the termination of Officer Adam Huot.

But now, that officer seen dragging a man in a body camera video bay have to be reinstated to the police department after a a Minnesota District Court judge ruled in favor of an arbitrator’s decision to do just that.

Officer Adam Huot remains on unpaid administrative leave because of that incident. But, the police chief and the city attorney want him gone for good after the actions he took in May 2017 that have been called “inappropriate.”

The City of Duluth now plans to appeal the District Court’s recent ruling. They believe their firing of Officer Huot was justified.

The police union agrees the officer’s actions went too far but they do not believe termination is the right punishment.

In body camera video taken during the May 20, 2017 incident, Officer Huot is seen dragging a man by the handcuffs through the Duluth skywalk after the man dropped to the ground and told officers he wasn’t going to make it easy for them.

During the exchange, the man’s head hit a door stop.

City officials tell us this action violates their use of force policy. Because Officer Huot didn’t report the use of force, he violated another policy.

City Attorney Gunnar Johnson says it’s important for the city to let go of Officer Huot to maintain public trust.

“When that trust is broken, the city will do everything it can to make sure we are moving forward in a way to rebuild that trust and to stay with policies that we have created for the police department rather than allowing this type of activity,” said Johnson.

The police union disagrees with the punishment. They released a statement about the incident that reads in part:

“The Duluth Police Union Continues to acknowledge that Officer Huot’s actions on May 20, 2017 were inappropriate and reflected poorly on all police officers. However, the union continues to maintain the belief that Officer Huot’s actions did not justify termination.”

An arbitrator ruled in favor of the union in June, against Officer Huot’s termination.

The District Court ruled to not vacate that decision.

But Johnson says the city will move forward with the case.

“The city will be pursuing an appeal of the District Court’s decision and will be pushing this case ahead to make sure to the best we can within our legal ability that Officer Huot does not come back on patrol for the City of Duluth,” said Johnson.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a similar district court ruling in June involving the city of Richfield. That case was appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the city of Richfield in that case, Hohnson believes the District Court judge will reconsider and rule in favor of Officer Huot’s termination.

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