Minneapolis police officer's finger bitten off by man in midst of mental health crisis

Categories: Crime, Police
james dawkins rect.jpg
James Dawkins allegedly went on a rampage in his apartment, then bit the finger off an MPD officer responding to his breakdown. 
Around 6 p.m. yesterday, an as-of-yet-unidentified Minneapolis police officer was trying to deal with a man in the midst of a mental health crisis on the 2400 block of 10th Avenue South when the man allegedly bit one of the fingers on the officer's left hand.

SEE ALSO: Brandon Shaw bit police dog, faces felony for alleged K-9 Tysoning

The bite was reportedly forceful enough to rip off the officer's finger below the knuckle. It's unclear whether doctors were able to reattach it.

The suspect, 54-year-old James Dawkins, was first taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment, then booked into jail on suspicion of assault. According to reports, the incident began when Dawkins's roommate called police and said Dawkins was "having an emotional breakdown and breaking items in the apartment." An MPD press release says that "several officers and the use of a Taser" were ultimately needed to subdue Dawkins.

The Star Tribune reports that Dawkins is a former teacher who was convicted of disarming a police officer in 2010 and spent 20 months in prison. The officer he allegedly bit is a 10-year veteran of the MPD.

According to WCCO, two of the officers who responded to Dawkins are members of the MPD's Crisis Intervention Team. It's unclear whether the bite victim himself is a member.

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4 comments
Elanor
Elanor

I guess it's nice that you commenters have a place to express opinions, and I guess CP doesn't have any real responsibility to, you know, like report on stuff, but since I was involved with the community response to Barbara Schneider's death, I think it's only fair to give credit to the MPD for the work they have done.


Barbara was killed by Minneapolis police officers almost 13 years ago.  I don't blame the officers so much as the fact that policing as a whole didn't respond well to people suffering mental illness.  The officers did about as well as they could, given the tools they had at the time. Life has not been easy for the officers following that night either, by the way.

To their great credit, Minneapolis police led by Chief Olson and Assistant Chief Hestness at the time, responded to our outrage by first listening to us and then looking for the best tools for police to use to assist people experiencing mental crises.  A new set of training and tools had been created at that time in Memphis called CIT or Crisis Intervention Team.  Minneapolis sent people from the community to evaluate Memphis' CIT porgram and some people from Memphis came up to train the first group of officers.  The training is long and intensive and it requires officers to take some actions that may feel riskier than previous training had allowed.

Minneapolis reports on its use of force every year to our organization and to the City Council, and it has among the lowest use of force per 10,000 calls in the country.  It has among the most successful CIT programs in the country.  Countless lives have been saved by CIT officers, but you commenters may not be aware of that because you get your news from City Pages--and "cops save life of suicidal man" isn't exactly the type of story they put on the blotter, unless it is accompanied by a gory video or a video of a cop slipping on ice while they do it.

So, if any cops happen to bother reading this...know that those of us in the mental health community who were outraged 13 years ago are now pleased with all that you have done to change.  Know that we appreciate the fact that you are willing to put your health and safety at risk to more appropriately deal with people with mental illness; know that people who take cheap shots at you often know not whereof they speak. Thank you for doing what you do.

Elanor
Elanor

I guess it's nice that you commenters have a place to express opinions, and I guess CP doesn't have any real responsibility to, you know, like report on stuff, but since I was involved with the community response to Barbara Schneider's death, I think it's only fair to give credit to the MPD for the work they have done.


Barbara was killed by Minneapolis police officers almost 13 years ago.  I don't blame the officers so much as the fact that policing as a whole didn't respond well to people suffering mental illness.  The officers did about as well as they could, given the tools they had at the time. Life has not been easy for the officers following that night either, by the way.

To their great credit, Minneapolis police led by Chief Olson and Assistant Chief Hestness at the time, responded to our outrage by first listening to us and then looking for the best tools for police to use to assist people experiencing mental crises.  A new set of training and tools had been created at that time in Memphis called CIT or Crisis Intervention Team.  Minneapolis sent people from the community to evaluate Memphis' CIT porgram and some people from Memphis came up to train the first group of officers.  The training is long and intensive and it requires officers to take some actions that may feel riskier than previous training had allowed.

Minneapolis reports on its use of force every year to our organization and to the City Council, and it has among the lowest use of force per 10,000 calls in the country.  It has among the most successful CIT programs in the country.  Countless lives have been saved by CIT officers, but you commenters may not be aware of that because you get your news from City Pages--and "cops save life of suicidal man" isn't exactly the type of story they put on the blotter, unless it is accompanied by a gory video or a video of a cop slipping on ice while they do it.

So, if any cops happen to bother reading this...know that those of us in the mental health community who were outraged 13 years ago are now pleased with all that you have done to change.  Know that we appreciate the fact that you are willing to put your health and safety at risk to more appropriately deal with people with mental illness; know that people who take cheap shots at you often know not whereof they speak. Thank you for doing what you do.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

It's terrible that this happened to this officer.  I'm a little surprised, though.  In the past, people like Barbara Schneider and numerous others have simply been gunned down while having mental health crises.  I'm very glad that the Minneapolis Police don't all come in blasting a way, but there has to be some middle ground to protect the safety of the officers as well.  Don't other jurisdictions have good mental health crisis procedures, training and personnel? Why doesn't Minneapolis?

fullermalarkey
fullermalarkey

MPD's Crisis Intervention Team....is this a euphemism  for Team of Jack Booted Thugs? I have trouble picturing MPD negotiating for compliance. Their tool boxes consist of hammers....and bigger hammers.



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