St. Paul Park teen cleared of felony charge
A St. Paul Park teen involved in an alleged physical altercation with an off-duty St. Paul police officer last summer has been cleared of an unrelated felony charge.
Earlier this month Washington County Judge B. William Ekstrum found Mica Franke, 16, not guilty of first-degree aiding and abetting aggravated robbery stemming from a July 3 incident.
According to the teen’s attorney Mike Padden, Franke, who was 15 at the time, was allegedly set up by two friends in an effort to recover money from another juvenile male for unpaid drugs.
One of the friends testified that a fight was to be held to “settle the score” between Franke and another juvenile male. While a fight did not occur, Franke and his two friends did confront the male and took a half-ounce of marijuana before the male ran off.
Padden said one of Franke’s friends planned it and that Franke was set up.
“Therefore, Mica had no involvement whatsoever,” he said.
Padden said Judge Ekstrum denied his motion to dismiss the charge but ultimately found Franke not guilty.
One of Franke’s friends pleaded guilty to one count of simple robbery. Padden said the other friend has not been charged.
Other case continues
Franke is also involved in an unrelated legal ordeal stemming from a May incident that left the teen scraped and bruised after an alleged physical altercation with off-duty St. Paul police officer Ronald Himes.
In August, Franke’s mother, Jessica Heroux, filed a civil lawsuit against Himes, a St. Paul Park resident, after Himes allegedly knocked Franke off a miniature motor bike.
Eyewitness testimony varied, with some saying Franke was recklessly speeding while others said he was operating at a reasonable speed.
As Franke crossed in front of Himes’ home, Himes allegedly stepped out in front of Franke and knocked him off the bike.
Padden said Himes then verbally and physically assaulted him leaving a handprint on the teen’s chest. However, Himes’ account of the incident said the opposite.
Himes said while his hand did hit Franke’s chest, causing Franke to crash, he said it was meant to slow him down, not hurt him. Himes also said the teen apologized and left the scene.
Padden continues to dispute those claims.
The St. Paul Park Police Department turned the case over to Washington County to avoid a conflict of interest. Mica is the the nephew of St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput then decided not to file criminal charges against Himes.
The St. Paul Police Department opened an internal investigation in August but has since closed it, said Paul Paulos, the department’s public information officer.
“We ultimately withdrew the complaint (against Himes) so there was no internal investigation conducted,” Paulos said in a recent interview.Himes, who has no prior complaints or disciplinary actions, was not reprimanded.
The family is pursuing a civil suit claiming intentional assault, defamation and negligence against Himes.
“The civil case is still pending, we haven’t filed the lawsuit yet but we are in negotiations with (Himes’) attorney,” Padden said. “But if those negotiations breakdown then I will file a claim for punitive damages.”