An attorney for St. Paul police officer Tony Dean, who was fired this week, said the suspect whom his client shot claimed to be in possession of a gun and threatened to use it against responding officers.
Joseph Javonte Washington, 31, was shot by Dean Saturday night during an incident behind the Bradshaw Funeral Home in St. Paul.
Prior to the shooting, Washington sexually assaulted an ex-girlfriend and livestreamed it to her social media accounts, according to charges filed against him Tuesday. He then kidnapped the woman at knifepoint, using the victim’s vehicle, before crashing near the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Rice Street.
About an hour later, police found Washington hiding naked in a dumpster, which is when he allegedly threatened to use a gun on police.
“He’s yelling that he’s got a gun,” an officer said moments before the shooting, according to dispatch audio.
“Many attempts by law enforcement to de-escalate the situation using a variety of non-lethal methods were unsuccessful and the suspect did not cooperate. These attempts were not shown in the short body camera video just released,” Robert Paule, Dean’s attorney, said in a press release.
“The suspect claimed to have a gun and threatened to use it against responding officers, saying, ‘I have a gun in here,’” said Paule.
Washington was unarmed during the incident but “charged at the retreating police officers” after exiting the dumpster. He even rounded “a corner at them rather than attempting to escape,” according to Paule.
“At this point, Officer Dean was acting as a cover officer and discharged his firearm to protect his fellow officers and himself. The information he had at the scene was an understanding that the suspect claimed to have a gun and had used a knife earlier that evening in a violent assault and rape,” Paule continued.
The St. Paul Police Federation also released a statement defending Dean’s “exemplary career” as a law enforcement officer.
The police union said Dean was awarded the “American Legion Officer of the Year” prize in 2015, received the department’s “Lifesaving Award” for working with a suicidal individual, served in the Marine Corps for eight years and mentored youth in St. Paul Public Schools.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell announced during a Tuesday press conference that he took “swift, decisive and serious action” against Dean, who failed to live up to the department’s standards, he said. It was later confirmed that Dean was fired.
“Officer Dean has led an exemplary career as a law enforcement officer, and has received recognition and accolades for his compassion, commitment to community, and his mentorship of youth in St. Paul,” St. Paul Police Federation President Paul Kuntz responded.