Jonathan Dwyer

Cardinals RB Dwyer Booked For Aggravated Assault

The dark cloud hanging over the NFL two weeks into the season grew more ominous on Wednesday after Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault.

The incidents in question occurred back in July, so it’s either a smart move by the prosecutor to finally move forward with a case during one of the most tumultuous weeks in NFL history, or the league is simply on the wrong end of an unfortunate coincidence. Things don’t often happen by chance in the legal world.

According to the police report, neighbors called police after hearing a loud argument between Dwyer and his girlfriend. Police arrived on scene but left without making an arrest because Dwyer allegedly hid in the bathroom while his wife told police she was arguing with someone on the phone. A second incident supposedly took place the following day. Dwyer’s girlfriend said the running back threw a shoe towards his son and broke her cellphone so she could not call the police. The woman moved out of the state shortly thereafter, but came forward with the allegations last week, saying Dwyer, “was going to harm himself because of what had been going on.”

who throws a shoe gif
“Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”

Slew of Charges

Dwyer faces many charges for his actions, including:

• One count of aggravated assault causing fracture.

• One count of aggravated assault involving a minor.

• Two counts of criminal damage.

• One count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.

• One count of simple assault.

Dwyer was freed on $25,000 cash bond early this morning and ordered to wear an electronic tracking device. He has been forbidden from contacting the victims, from traveling out of the state of Arizona, and from using alcohol, drugs or possessing a weapon.

Dwyer admitted to police that arguments occurred during the two days in question, but he denies physically assaulting either his girlfriend or child.

NFL Future in Doubt

Dwyer was immediately deactivated from the team after the Cardinals were made aware of the incident, which they say they only learned about yesterday.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities,” the Cardinals announced in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The NFL also announced it would review the arrest under the league’s revamped personal conduct policy.

Related source: ESPN

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon Pleads Guilty to DWI

Troubled Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday. Gordon was originally arrested for driving while intoxicated over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Gordon will avoid jail as long as he follows through with the conditions put forth in his plea agreement, which include:

• 12 months of unsupervised probation

• $100 fine

• $290 in court costs

• Driver’s license suspension

Gordon also received a 60-day suspended sentence, meaning he’ll be forced to spend two months in jail if he violates his probation.

Further NFL Punishment?

The NFL has already suspended Gordon for the first 10 games of the season for a second failed drug test, and it’s possible that the league could impose an additional suspension. Gordon was originally suspended for the entire season, but he had his suspension reduced after the league and the NFL Players Association came to terms on a new drug policy that, without getting too into the details, lessens penalties for recreational or “party” drugs while taking a stronger stance on violent behavior and Human Growth Hormone testing.

The new policy would tack on an additional two games to Gordon’s suspension, but the deal has yet to be officially finalized, so it’s possible that his suspension will remain unchanged.

An NFL spokesperson declined to discuss further punishments for Gordon, saying, “We’ll decline to comment as we work through the revisions to the drug policy.”

Attorney Geoff Saltzstein, a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, said he doesn’t believe Gordon will receive an additional suspension for his DWI.

“I think the league took into account all of Gordon’s off field issues when they reduced his suspension to 10 games,” Saltzstein said. “Some believed Gordon would have his suspension cut in half to eight games, so the reduction to 10 likely means the NFL took note of Gordon’s recent off field antics. I think his suspension will remain at 10 games.”

Related source: ESPN

Police Body Cameras

Minneapolis Approves Police Body Camera Program 

Minneapolis officials have taken the next step in equipping the city’s police force with body cameras after they approved a $170,000 pilot program to set 36 officers up with the surveillance equipment.

The Minneapolis City Council Committee approved the plan on Monday, and the council is set to finalize the pilot program’s plans by the end of the week. The council plans to evaluate the success of the program at six- and nine-month intervals to determine if the city should continue with the program or make strategic changes.

The city believes the program will be a success, and they have already begun taking measures to budget for additional body cameras. Minneapolis will provide an additional $1.1 million to the program in the fall of 2015.

The city will equip officers with two types of cameras to determine which capture the best picture and are less of a hindrance to the officer. One type of camera will attach to the front of an officer’s uniform, while the other camera will be clipped onto eyeglasses. The city will test out both methods during the pilot program.

Officers in Duluth and Burnsville are already using body cameras, and although statistics aren’t yet available, if it’s going anything like the program in Rialto, California, citizen complaints are likely down.

Avery Appelman comments

This is a step in the right direction for justice. Cameras mean that both officers and citizens will be held accountable for their actions by an unbiased third party. These cameras will clear up any question as to what events transpired.

I have little doubt that the pilot program will be successful in reducing complaints against officers and excessive force suits, as both parties will be on their best behavior. 10 years from now I think police body cameras will be the norm.

Related source: Pioneer Press

 

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson Reinstated After Child Abuse Charges

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to be back on the field Sunday when Minnesota takes on New Orleans after being reinstated by the team. Peterson was held out of this week’s game after he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The decision to reinstate Peterson is making waves among the talking heads at ESPN and other sports media outlets, and the Vikings owners made it clear that they understand the severity of the charges but they also want to let due process run its course.

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue,” owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action.”

Child Abuse Charges

The public first learned of the child abuse charges Friday afternoon, and the Vikings quickly made the decision to deactivate Peterson for the Sunday’s home opener. According to a statement from his attorney Rusty Hardin, the charges stem from an incident where Peterson used “a switch to spank his son.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a switch is basically a small twig or tree branch.

“Parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Hardin said about the incident. According to the grand jury, Peterson’s actions exceeded a reasonable standard.

Peterson will make his first appearance on Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea. Peterson will appear in court over the next several weeks, but many involved in the case believe it will be a few months before the case goes to trial.

Child Abuse Penalties

Peterson was officially charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. He could also be placed on probation and be forced to attend counseling.

In addition to penalties levied by the state of Texas, Peterson could face additional discipline from the NFL. The league recently announced a new domestic violence policy that includes any physical harm, so it’s certainly possible that Peterson would be subject to penalties. Under the new policy, a first time offender would receive a six game suspension and a second violation would result in a lifetime ban.

Related source: ESPN

Twin Towers

9/11 – 13 Years Later

For some, September 11th, 2001 seems like decades ago. For others, it still seems like yesterday.

13 years ago our country was rocked by a national tragedy. More than 3,000 Americans lost their lives  in the Trade Center attacks, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. September 11 also took a toll on our bravest, as it stands as the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officials in the history of the United States.

In the wake of the tragedy, Americans rallied together to stand as one. We did what we always do – We persevered. Those we lost that day will never be forgotten, and their loss led to sweeping changes in the way the United States protects its citizens from domestic attacks. Airports added advanced security measures, baseball and football stadiums added metal detectors and reduced what could be brought into games, and the US revamped its efforts to prevent and identify terrorist activities before they occurred.

So today, in honor of those we lost and all those affected by the events of September 11, we ask you to take some time out of your day and think back to that day 13 years ago. Think about where you were, how you felt, and what you did in the following days.

The below video will take you back to that day. As you can probably guess, some of the footage may not be suitable for all ages, but we think it’s worth sharing on the anniversary of 9/11.

 

 

Thank you to all those who gave their lives on that day. We will never forget.

2009-05-07_TCF_Bank_Stadium

Vikings Home Opener: Guns at TCF Bank Stadium?

The Minnesota Vikings will make their home debut in the elements at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, and city officials and law enforcement say they are prepared to handle the large crowd and a few unruly spectators. Uniformed officers have a number of ways to control a drunk or violent guest, as they are permitted to carry lethal and non-lethal weapons into the stadium, but a decision by a Minnesota judge has called into question whether off duty officers should have similar privileges.

As it currently stands, the National Football League bans off-duty police officers from carrying handguns into games, but that policy may soon change. Last week, Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson ruled that state-law trumps the NFL rule. Under Minnesota law, off-duty licensed peace officers are allowed to carry weapons including firearms into private establishments, even if the business bans guns.

The ruling only further muddles the legal battle. Despite making the ruling, Judge Bernhardson didn’t determine how and when the law would be enforced. While the dust is settling, the University of Minnesota plans to combat the ruling. They are expected to argue that they have autonomy under the state Constitution to ban guns from Vikings games in their stadium, which will host games until the completion of the new stadium.

In spite of the ruling, off-duty officers cannot bring firearms into TCF Bank Stadium until further court action. Judge Bernhardson stopped stop of demanding that off-duty officers be allowed to bring their weapon to the game, saying that those individuals have other ways of keeping up with the Vikings if the want to do so with a holster on their hip. She said the TV, Internet or radio will have to suffice in the meantime.

Avery Appelman comments

It goes to show that state-law still trumps private businesses, even those as large as the NFL. With all the new precautions NFL stadiums are adding to prevent individuals from bringing weapons into the game, I don’t necessarily see the need for off-duty officers to bring their weapon into the game, but I certainly understand their right to do so.

It will be interesting to watch this legal battle unfold in the coming months. Go Vikings!

Ray Rice Elevator

Ray Rice Cut By Ravens, Suspended by NFL For Domestic Violence

The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens took action against Ray Rice after new video evidence emerged showing the runningback punching his now-wife in a casino elevator.

The video, which can be seen below, shows Rice and his fiancé Janay Parker embroiled in an argument in a casino elevator. Parker moves towards Rice, and he throws a hard punch with his left hand. Parker strikes her head on the handrail as she falls, and she remains unconscious for a few minutes.

 

 

Rice was originally charged with felony assault, but Parker refused to testify and the charges were later dropped on the condition Rice seek court-supervised counseling. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games for the incident, which led to stark criticism from public. Feeling that he made a mistake in only suspending Rice for two games, Goodell created new suspension guidelines for anyone found guilty of domestic or physical assault. Still, the general public felt that both the NFL and the Ravens, who didn’t administer any further punishment, had dropped the ball in regards to Rice’s situation.

That is until yesterday, when “new” video surfaced that showed the punch in its entirety. Sensing that they could salvage their public image, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell suspended him “indefinitely.”

“It changed the course of things,” Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said of the video.

Cut the Crap

While some will argue that in the end, the team and the league made the right move to cut and suspend Rice, as attorneys, we don’t just look at the end result; we examine the whole process.

The biggest issue I have is that it’s impossible for me to believe that the NFL and the Ravens did not know this video existed prior to yesterday. For starters, the incident happened in a casino elevator. Everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere in a casino. Why would the elevator be any different? At the absolute least, the NFL should have inquired about the existence of a video recording inside the elevator. The casino surely knew they had video, so why did it take six months for the video to surface?

TMZ was the first to release the video to the public, and they took a strong stance against the NFL’s claims that they had no idea the video existed. TMZ’s Harvey Levin said the NFL knew of the video, and he claims to have proof of their knowledge.

“Prosecutors had this, police had it, I know people had this video, too,” Levin said. “The NFL, it almost feels like they didn’t want to know.”

It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds if TMZ can back up their claims. At this point though, I must agree with Keith Olbermann, who blasted those who turned a blind eye to this domestic violence, including the league, the NFL, and the county prosecutors.

 

 

Related source: NY Times

Drugged Driving

Ex-Packer Lyerla Arrested For Drugged Driving

The Green Bay Packers usually avoid signing players with a history of run-ins with the law, but they made an exception when the signed former Oregon Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Lyerla showed flashes of potential while at Oregon, but he left the program midway through the season after being arrested for attempting to flee police officers and possession of cocaine.

The Packers brought him into training camp, but a knee injury made him expendable and he was eventually released before the season began. Although he received a nice little six-figure injury settlement, it appears Lyerla couldn’t stay out of trouble off the field as he was arrested over the weekend for driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Although the full arrest report has yet to be released, The Oregonian reports that Lyerla was high on illegal drugs or medication at the time of his arrest. His first court appearance is scheduled for September 17.

Drugged Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs carries serious consequences. Had Lyerla been arrested in Minnesota, he would have faced misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, which carries the following penalties:

  • Up to 90 days in jail.
  • Up to $1,000 fine.
  • Up to 180 days of license suspension.

Since Lyerla already has a “fleeing an officer” and drug possession arrest on his record, odds are the judge wouldn’t have felt the need to go easy on the young man. The fine would be of little impact to Lyerla, whose injury settlement paid him just south of $150,000, but jail time or a license suspension would act as a serious burden for a player who, at this point, would be lucky to get another look by an NFL team.

I expect that Lyerla will spend a few days in jail for this arrest, and I believe his NFL career is over. His talent on the field is not nearly good enough to outweigh the headcase that he is off the field. I hope he gets the help he needs to make the transition from BMOC to the real-world.

Related source: The Oregonian, ESPN

Heroin Minnesota

Minneapolis Holds Summit on Heroin Prevention

Some of Minnesota’s top influencers including prosecutors, law enforcement officials, medical experts and drug treatment specialists were in Minneapolis on Thursday in an effort to devise strategies to combat a growing heroin issue.

Although the rise in heroin use isn’t isolated to Minnesota, the state is one of the first to hold a statewide meeting to discuss its implications and attempt to prevent its spread. Contrary to other drugs like marijuana or cocaine where police spend months looking for the big suppliers, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger suggests police should focus their attention on smaller heroin dealers, the ones who sell to users who eventually overdose. He also added that dealers charged in overdose deaths should be handed over to federal prosecutors, as a federal conviction would guarantee a longer sentence. Luger believes police focus on these dealers and the threat of serious jail time could cripple the heroin market.

“We want to make Minnesota an inhospitable place to do business,” Luger said. “Many parts of the country have missed the boat on how to deal with heroin.”

Concerning Trend

Overdose deaths due to heroin use and other opiates are on the rise in Minnesota. Hennepin County is already on pace to surpass last year’s record high of 56 heroin overdose deaths, and the county reported 132 opioid-related deaths in 2013.

One way the city is attempting to prevent overdose deaths is by distributing Narcan, a drug that can temporarily reverse the potentially lethal effects of heroin, to EMTs and first responders. Dr. Marc Conterato, an emergency physician at North Memorial Medical Center, said ambulances are now always stocked with Narcan.

“Narcan has been given to people as young as 14 and as old as 72,” said Conterato. “Ten years ago, Narcan wouldn’t have been one of the medicines stocked in an ambulance.”

Another debate near the end of the summit revolved around whether or not someone who witnesses a heroin overdose should be immune to prosecution if they call 911. Currently, a law called Steve’s Law, which also allows first responders to use Narcan on an overdose victim, provides callers with limited immunity. Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek said there’s pros and cons of either argument, but at the end of the day, a person shouldn’t lose their life because a friend feared jail time for calling 911.

“Bottom line is that we are in the business to save lives,” he said. “It’s a public policy issue.”

Related source: Star-Tribune

Minnesota DUI

Minnesota DUIs At Lowest Levels in 20 Years

The number of DUI arrests across the state of Minnesota fell to its lowest level since 20 years, and authorities say improved enforcement and shifting public perception of drinking and driving are the biggest reasons for the decline.

Minnesota police arrested 25,719 individuals for driving under the influence in 2013, and while that number still represents about 70 DUI arrests a day, that’s a huge improvement from just a few years ago when there were 41,951 such arrests in 2006. 19,036 Minnesotans received a criminal conviction, which also represents a 20-year low. Despite the downward trend, Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said drunk driving is still a huge issue.

“It’s obviously a problem,” said Roeske. “Some don’t care about the consequences. Some struggle with chemical dependency and that contributes to the poor choice of getting behind the wheel when impaired.”

Crash data seems to confirm Roeske’s sentiments. 40 percent of Minnesotans involved in a fatal crash this year had previously been convicted of DUI, and 2,300 others were injured in alcohol-related crashes. See more statistics from the report below:

  • Minnesota experienced a two percent decline in drunken driving deaths in 2013.
  • Not surprisingly, drivers between the ages of 20-34 accounted for the majority of DUI arrests. That age group represented 55 percent of the total drunk driving arrests.
  • 4,034, or about one in six motorists arrested for DUI last year, had a BAC over 0.20.
  • 22 percent of residents in Mahnomen County have a DUI conviction, the highest rate in the state, while Stevens County boasts the lowest rate at 7.7 percent.

Why the Decline?

As we alluded to in the beginning of the post, improved enforcement and shifting public perception are two main reasons why DUI arrests have fallen over the past two decades, but Nancy Johnson, legislative liaison for Minnesotans for Safe Driving, said there are more factors at play.

“There’s been so much press and lots of enforcement just for impaired driving. I mean people really got the message. Less people are driving drunk,” said Johnson. “The cars are safer. [Emergency medical services] are faster. So some people who might have died in a crash 10 years ago might not now because they’ll be able to get to the hospital sooner.”

Legislators also credited the harsher penalties to repeat or serious offenders as a sign that some people are learning from their mistakes.

Here’s hoping 2014 is another record breaking year, but if something happens and you need to speak to an attorney, don’t hesitate to call Appelman Law Firm. We’re here to help.

Related source: Star Tribune

by Appelman Law Firm