Winona Police Department (WPD) Officer Josh Squires, who previously served as the school resource officer at the Winona Senior High School (WSHS), was charged with domestic assault last Monday after allegedly hitting a juvenile on January 4 in Winona.

According to the complaint, Squires got into an argument with the alleged victim as he was about to give them a ride. Their verbal argument escalated, and he allegedly punched the juvenile in the arm, police said. The two returned inside a residence, and, “… the Defendant [Squires] proceeded to, in his own words, get into [the] victim’s face. Defendant backed [the] victim into a corner of the kitchen. Defendant kept his hands behind his back while cornering [the] victim and was in such close proximity that he pulled [the victim’s] hair with his teeth,” investigators wrote. The juvenile reportedly told Winona County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputies that, during their argument in the vehicle, Squires allegedly punched the seat of the vehicle and allegedly punched the juvenile in the arm and that, in the kitchen, Squires allegedly pushed into the juvenile with his chest, according to Sheriff Ron Ganrude.

Squires was charged with fifth-degree, misdemeanor domestic assault causing harm and fifth-degree, misdemeanor domestic assault causing fear, both punishable by up to 90 days in jail. 

WPD Chief Tom Williams said Squires is currently on administrative leave. Williams declined to comment on any possible disciplinary action by the city of Winona. 

The incident took place on the morning of January 4. It was first reported to law enforcement around 4:08 p.m. that day, when WCSO deputies responded to a request for a welfare check at a residence in rural Winona County and spoke with the juvenile. Because the alleged incident happened in the city’s jurisdiction, was not an ongoing threat, and required more follow-up, a WCSO sergeant referred the case to the WPD, Ganrude said. He said that is typical for cases requiring further investigation within the WPD’s jurisdiction. 

The WPD referred the case to the Rochester Police Department the next day, which continued the investigation and recommended charging Squires. A Wabasha-based attorney is prosecuting the case. It’s typical for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to ask neighboring governments to handle cases where there might be a conflict of interest.

After Winona County District Court judges Mary Leahy and Nancy Buytendorp recused themselves, the case was assigned to Fillmore County District Court Judge Jeremy Clinefelter. Squires’ first court date is at the end of March.

Squires was a longtime investigator for the WPD. Williams said that, like some other WPD investigators, he was reassigned to patrol duties due to staffing shortages in the department and recently switched to the position of patrol officer full-time. In the late 2010s, Squires served as the school resource officer at WSHS and other Winona Area Public Schools buildings before the School Board voted unanimously to eliminate the resource officer position in 2020.