A man experiencing a mental health emergency bit off a portion of a Minneapolis police officer's finger on Tuesday evening, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.
Four officers responded to perform a welfare check in the 2400 block of 10th Avenue South at about 5:45 p.m. after a resident reported his roommate was having an emotional breakdown.
The caller told dispatch the man was destroying items and other residents were concerned for their safety.
Once officers arrived, two were immediately attacked by 54-year-old James Dawkins, who allegedly tried to disarm one officer as they tried to physically subdue him while he continued to kick and punch at them.
During that struggle, Dawkins bit down on the gloved, left index finger of Officer Chad Meyer. Although the officer screamed in pain, Dawkins continued to bite down until he severed the officer's finger at the first knuckle, according to the criminal complaint.
Police deployed a Taser in an attempt to subdue Dawkins, but it did not work. Eventually, they were able to physically overcome him and place him under arrest.
According to the charging documents, the portion of Meyer's finger was found inside his glove. Although it was preserved for possible reattachment, it was later determined that surgery would not be an option.
A release from the Minneapolis Police Department says officers were dispatched to a number of similar calls at Dawkins' address within the past year. Police say Dawkins was openly hostile during many of those previous incidents, and officers have needed to physically subdue him before.
In December 2009, Dawkins was charged in Dakota County for a similar incident after he disarmed a peace officer while physically assaulting St. Paul officers and resisting arrest.
Officers responded after residents in a St. Paul home reported Dawkins had destroyed several doors and a fan for no apparent reason. Responding officers found Dawkins attempting to burn his hand with two lighters and deployed a Taser when he did not comply with their commands. Charging documents explain that Dawkins then tore off his shirt, began kicking and punching police before taking the Taser.
Dawkins pled guilty in that case.
After Dawkins was arrested on Tuesday, he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment of his medical condition. He was released from HCMC Tuesday night and booked at Hennepin County Jail. He remains in custody.
On Wednesday, Dawkins was charged with felony first-degree assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $30,000 fine.
Officer Chad Meyer has been with the Minneapolis Police Department since January 2008 and previously served with the Chisago County Sheriff's Office. He is permanently assigned to the Third Precinct and works the overnight shift regularly.
Meyer was awarded a Medal of Valor and Medal of Commendation in 2009 for his help in subduing armed suspects in Minneapolis. He was also nominated Officer of the Year in his precinct in that year.