ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A St. Paul police officer is charged with misdemeanor assault after prosecutors say he punched a 14-year-old girl in the face.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday, the girl was handcuffed at the time of the December incident and was in the back of a squad car. The complaint says Officer Michael Soucheray II hit the girl after she spit in his face.

Soucheray was placed on paid leave Monday.

His attorney, Peter Wold, says Soucheray's reaction was in self-defense and he pushed the girl away after she committed felony assault by spitting at him. Wold says his client used reasonable force.

The complaint says officers were trying to take the girl to a hospital because she was reportedly suicidal, but she refused to go and became agitated.