St. Paul Police Officer Michael Soucheray and his partner, Chris Rhoades, were called to help with a 14-year-old girl who was in need of psychiatric help and was possibly suicidal at Brittany’s Place, a shelter for girls.

The teen reportedly “became agitated,” giving officers and staff the silent treatment until it was decided that police, not paramedics, would take her to the hospital. She was handcuffed when she continued to resist and told that she would be dragged to a squad car if she continued to resist, at which point she went limp.

But when the officers got nearly to the squad car, the girl started to scream and resist, standing in the seat to make it difficult for the officers to put a seat belt on her.

Then, according to a criminal complaint, she spit in Soucheray’s face, and he responded by hitting her in the face — twice. He also grabbed her by the jaw and called her a “f—— b—-.”

Soucheray is now on paid administrative leave while the department investigates his actions, but Soucheray maintains that he acted in self-defense.

“He’s wedged in the back of the squad car with this belligerent screaming young woman that just clears her throat while he’s trying to help her and spits in his face,” attorney Peter Wold said. “That’s dangerous. He was just a matter of inches away. … She might be a young girl, but you don’t know whether she has diseases or what. And that’s an assault when you spit in someone’s face like that.”

Wold then went on to blame the political climate for the trouble Soucheray has found himself in.

“It’s tough enough being a cop nowadays,” he said. “Just the regular danger and the antipathy toward them by different groups. It’s hard enough but with the political environment. … Politically it’s easier to charge him than not. Then let it go the course and see what happens there.”

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