Last Friday, former St. Paul officer Bret Palkowitsch was sentenced to six years in prison for using excessive force and violating the civil rights of Frank Baker during a 2016 arrest.
At the time of the incident, Frank Baker was in his car making a telephone call when a fight broke out near his home in St. Paul Minnesota. Frank Baker, a concert promoter, said he took off his shirt while in the car because it was muggy that day. And that’s when former police officer Brett Palkowitsch supposedly mistaken him for a robbery subsect.
Palkowitsch ordered Baker out of his car and when Baker followed orders, for some unknown reason, Palkowitsch unleashed his K-9 dog which attacked Baker’s leg. Palkowitsch’s squad car video showed the disgraced officer continuing to kick Baker as he laid on the ground.
“When the officer said ‘get out of the car and put your hands up,’ I put my hands up,” Baker said in an interview with Matt Sepic and MPR News Staff. “I didn’t even have time to take two steps. He let the dog out. I’m looking like it’s in slow motion. No you didn’t!”
Frank Baker suffered major injuries one of which required skin grafts to repair his leg. He also suffered collapsed lungs and seven broken ribs. He remained in the hospital for two weeks while occurring huge medical bills.
In 2017, the city of St. Paul gave Baker a $2 million settlement. “They call me the Black superman. Because anybody who took a beating like that and still live. And I say no, no, no. It was God,” Frank Baker told a reporter. “He gave me a second chance. Because a lot of people, what law enforcement did to them, killed them. They can’t come back and tell their story.”
At the time of the incident, Palkowitsch minimized his actions by lying on his report saying that Baker presented as oppositional and was “armed and listed hands/feet/fists under other weapons.”
During his sentencing, Palkowitsch gave a tearful apology to Baker. “I hope that today gives you a little bit of closure, but I know for the rest of your life it’s something you’re going to have to deal with. For the rest of my life, it’s something that I’m going to have to live with as well. But from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.”
Although Baker questioned the authenticity of Palkowitsch’s words. “His family and friends, his mother, his wife, his kids, got to see that he has a dark side to him. He made my life a living hell.”
When the assault to took place, Baker was 52, now he is 57 and said he has to take 18 pills a day and contends with daily health problems. But through it all, Baker said he had no ill-will against police officers.