“Life ain’t what it used to be,” Frank Baker said in federal court Friday in St. Paul. He testified in the trial against St. Paul police officer Brett Palkowitsch, charged with using excessive force against Baker.
Baker said on June 24, 2016, following a concert, he was sitting in his Jeep and talking on the phone when police arrived. After police ordered him to do so, Baker got out of the vehicle. Then suddenly a dog, released by Officer Brian Ficcadenti, dragged him to the ground.
“I thought I was going to die,” he said. He showed jurors the scars on his legs and chest.
Palkowitsch kicked Baker while he lay on the ground, as the police dog was biting him. Baker suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs.
A trial brief for the defense has said the officers could consider Baker’s moving his hands to his torso as a threat because he may have had a weapon there. Baker was unarmed.
Earlier in the week, Ficcadenti testified for the prosecution that in retrospect, he would not have released his K9 and that Palkowitsch used more force than was necessary.
On Friday, Baker cried as he watched a video and recalled the events of that night. He appeared visibly shaken. During the trial, the defense showed pictures of his leg wound soon after he was bitten.
He asked in shock, “Is that my leg?”
Under questioning by defense attorney Deborah Ellis, Baker said he couldn’t remember many of the events that happened that night. He had no idea police officers were yelling at him. He did remember the dog: “It felt like I was being eaten alive.”
Baker did not know his lungs had collapsed until after his surgery and couldn’t understand why he could not breathe.
Three years later, Baker told jurors he has nightmares from the “scariest time in my life.” He also described shortness of breath, even on short walks to his car.
“This is every day of my life.”