Bail Lowered for Man Charged With Biting Mpls. Officer's Finger

Updated: 04/12/2013 4:13 PM By: Leslie Dyste

A Minneapolis police officer will be permanently disfigured after an "emotionally disturbed" man reportedly bit off the officer's index finger.

Police said 54-year-old James Curtis Dawkins attacked two officers who were responding to a welfare check 911 call at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at a boarding house in a south Minneapolis duplex.

A resident said his roommate, later identified as Dawkins, was having an emotional breakdown and destroying things in the home, scaring other residents according to a Hennepin County criminal complaint against Dawkins.

Minneapolis police later identified Chad Meyer and Laura Turner as the officers who responded to the call. Police were familiar with Dawkins, who has been openly hostile and violent with police before, the complaint said.

At the boarding house, Dawkins immediately became hostile toward the officers, punching and kicking them, the charge said. Dawkins attempted to disarm Meyer, according to police.

Two additional officers with the department's Crisis Intervention Team, which specializes in mental health issues, were called for assistance at the scene.

Dawkins bit down onto police officer Meyer's gloved left index finger, the complaint said. Meyer screamed, but Dawkins continued biting down until the officer's finger was bitten off at the first knuckle. Dawkins was eventually subdued and arrested.

"I have met with the officer, and the officer is doing well considering the circumstances," said Mike Sullivan, a Minneapolis police inspector, Tuesday night following the incident.

Meyer was in good condition as of Tuesday at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Officers used a Taser to subdue Dawkins, who was treated at HCMC. Dawkins was arrested and later taken to the Hennepin County Jail.

The bitten off portion of Meyer's finger was located inside his glove, the complaint said. It was preserved and brought to the hospital for possible reattachment.

However, the officer's finger couldn't be reattached, leaving Meyer permanently disfigured, according to the charge.

Meyer joined the Minneapolis Police Department in January 2008, the department reported. He previously worked at the Chisago County Sheriff's Office.

Meyer received a Medal of Valor in 2009, and two Medal of Commendation awards in 2008 and 2009, Minneapolis police reported. He was nominated as Officer of the Year in 2009.

Dawkins has been charged with felony first-degree assault. Read the criminal complaint here.

Dawkins had a bail hearing Friday. His bail was lowered to $100,000 with conditions. The conditions include posting bond, remaining law-abiding, taking medications in the prescribed dosage and making all future court appearances.

His next hearing will take place in May.