Updated: 6:41 p.m. | Posted: 5:35 p.m.
A Minneapolis police officer was charged Wednesday with a felony for allegedly kicking a suspect in the head who was on his hands and knees, triggering a brain injury.
Christopher Michael Reiter, 36, who is no longer with the department, faces a third-degree assault charge for the incident, which happened while he was responding to a domestic assault call last spring.
If convicted, Reiter faces up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
"We all know that Minneapolis police, and all police, face difficult jobs," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters. "In this case, kicking the victim in the face is deadly force and deadly force was not justified."
According to the criminal complaint: Reiter and other officers responded to a domestic assault call at an apartment building on May 30. Some officers went inside to talk with person who called them while others found the suspect, Mohamed Osman, inside a car parked outside.
They ordered the suspect to the ground and he got on his hands and knees. Reiter then approached Osman and kicked him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground, unconscious and bleeding. An ambulance took him to the hospital.
In a statement, Minneapolis police union president Lt. Bob Kroll said the organization supports Reiter and wants to make sure he is afforded his legal rights.
"Images and videos that often look horrific must be reviewed in the context of the overall incident beyond the point of view of one camera angle," Kroll said.
Attorney Robert Fowler, who is representing Reiter, released a statement that said he believes his client's use of force was justified.
Kicking someone in the head is considered deadly force, according to court documents. The three officers on the scene with Reiter all told investigators that using deadly force wasn't necessary in the incident last May.
There are more medical reports coming on Osman's injuries, Freeman said. His office may change the charges to first-degree assault — which carries a stiffer penalty — if the TBI continues affecting Osman.
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