Zombie DUI

Zombie Earns Two DUIs in Three Hours

You may be fond of your Halloween costume, but odds are you don’t want it immortalized forever as a standout DUI mugshot.

That luxury likely won’t be afforded to 26-year-old Catherine Butler, whose mugshot has gone viral after receiving two DUIs in a span of three hours after a night of Halloween debauchery.

Butler and friends decided to celebrate the Halloween holiday last Saturday, but she made a poor decision at the end of the night by deciding to drive home. An officer noticed that Butler was driving without her headlights on, and he quickly pulled her over. When asked to submit to a Breathalyzer, Butler blew a 0.11, nearly 1.5 times the legal driving limit.

As you can see from the above mugshot, she was still rocking her zombie costume at the time of her DUI arrest. Unfortunately for Butler, her troubles didn’t end there. A friend stopped by the station and picked up her zombie buddy, but just three hours later Butler was back on the road. An officer noticed a car driving erratically around 5 a.m. and conducted a traffic stop. Sensing that Butler was still affected by the alcohol in her system, the officer asked her to again submit to a Breathalyzer test. This time she blew a 0.09, just barely over the 0.08 legal limit.

Butler was again arrested for driving under the influence, but as you can see in the photo on the right, in the short time between arrests she decided to ditch the zombie costume.

The two arrests marked the third and fourth instances where Butler was arrested for drunk diving. Gates Police Chief James Vanbrederode said the message clearly hasn’t gotten through to this young woman.

“Two prior driving while impaired convictions and 26 years old and she’s still out driving drunk. It’s just hard to understand why people continue to do that and the consequences of continuing to do that,” Vanbrederode said.

Butler is due to appear in court next month.

Related source: Huffington Post, WHEC.com, 13Wham.com

Halloween DUI Minnesota

Extra DUI Patrols Likely on Halloween Weekend in Minnesota

Although there has yet to be an official announcement from the Sheriff’s Office or the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, it’s well speculated that Minnesota troopers will once again be conducting extra DUI patrols throughout the holiday weekend.

This year’s Halloween celebration is unique in that the holiday falls on a Friday, meaning more adults will take part in the festivities on the holiday night. More adults are likely to celebrate Halloween with cocktails on the actual holiday since many won’t have to work the next day, but you can see how partying adults and hordes of Trick or Treaters can be a recipe for disaster.

As you’re probably well aware, alcohol slows your reaction time behind the wheel. That extra half second of recognition could be the difference between life and death if a child decides to run across the street at the wrong moment. Even if the child “came out of nowhere” or “dashed right in front of you,” you’re still going to spend time in jail if you’re over the legal limit.

Although many adults won’t hit the town until the vast majority of Trick or Treaters are back from their spooky excursion, there’s simply no reason to drink and drive on Halloween. Even without the presence of drunk drivers, more children are killed by vehicles on Halloween than any other day of the year.

So while MNDoT and authorities have yet to announce an official statement regarding extra DUI patrols on Halloween, you can bet they’ll be out there, especially since they added similar patrols in 2013. Over the last six years authorities have arrested roughly 3,000 drunk drivers during the Halloween weekend.

As always when we discuss heightened patrols during holiday weekends, here are some ways to get to and from the party with a sober driver.

  • Uber has a special deal for Twin Cities travelers this Halloween. All you have to do is visit their site and request a personalized party code. Uber will email you a code within 24 hours that gives you a free ride, and you can share that code with friends and they’ll get the same deal. If you go with a friend to a Halloween bash, you can get there and back for free by simply each requesting a code!
  • Bus/Taxi.
  • Have a designated driver.
  • Crash at a friend’s house and drive home in the morning.
  • Walk home with friends.

If you do end up in trouble this weekend, be it DUI or other violation, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (952) 224-2277.

South Minneapolis

Crime Rates Surge in South Minneapolis

An analysis of police statistics revealed that some historically safe South Minneapolis neighborhoods have seen a noticeable uptick in violent crime in the past year.

The Lake Nokomis neighborhood saw the biggest spike in crime, as violent crime rose 26 percent since last year. The community also saw an increase all four crimes that fall under the violent crime category. The four crimes that make up the violent crime category are:

  • Murders
  • Rapes
  • Robberies

Police spokesman John Elder said law enforcement plans to increase patrols in areas where crime has increased.

“We continue to add extra resources to the areas where we have seen this slight uptick in violent criminal activity,” said Elder.

Last year authorities increased patrols and civilian contacts in many North Minneapolis areas that had a higher than average crime rate, and it appears the added presence has been successful. Crime rates dropped in most Northeast and North Minneapolis communities where police intensified enforcement efforts.

“Our initiatives to increase firearms seizures from people not entitled to carry them has paid off and we certainly hope that has kept violent criminal activity increases to a minimum,” added Elder.

Despite the success in some North Minneapolis communities, overall crime is up five percent from last year, with 3,111 violent crimes on record. Police noted that although crime rates increased so far through 2014, the city of Minneapolis is still approaching 30-year-lows. This is consistent with national crime rates, which have also tapered off since the 80s and 90s.

Elder concluded by saying the war on violent crime is a constant, ever-changing battle.

“Every week we reassess where our criminal hot zones are and we continue to increase patrols and adjust shifts to combat these crimes,” Elder said.

Related source: Star-Tribune

Police Gun

New Police Weapon Technology on the Horizon

In an effort to quell concerns about policy brutality and use of deadly force, a Silicon Valley company has developed a new technology that will allow law enforcement to track when a gun is pulled from its holster, as well as when a weapon is fired.

Not only that, but the technology will allow law enforcement agencies to track the trajectory of the shot and the location of the weapon at the time it was fired. Jim Schaff, who works for Yardarm Technologies, the company developing the equipment, said the technology works through Bluetooth connectivity and real-time location sensing.

“It’s the same kind of sensor your iPhone uses to change the screen from vertical to horizontal when you turn your phone to the side,” said Schaff. “But ours is way more powerful.”

Schaff also noted that the connectivity is not linked up to the trigger mechanism, so there is no possibility that the gun could be fired remotely. It will simply track when the gun is drawn and record any discharge data.

Proponents of the technology believe it can help clarify exactly what occurred during a particularly tense or ambiguous encounter. The data could also help forensic scientists determine who fired a fatal shot, or if an officer exercised unnecessary force by drawing his weapon on a suspect.

The tracking technology also has one big benefit for police officers; Instant notification of a gun being drawn. If an officer needs to draw his weapon, odds are he’s facing a dangerous or potentially life-threatening situation. If the station gets a notification that an officer has drawn his or her weapon, they can immediately dispatch backup without the responding officer needing to divert attention from the situation to radio in a call. In hostile situations, those extra few seconds can be the difference between life and death.

“That’s the worst nightmare for any police officer in the field,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak in regards to an officer’s inability to radio for backup.

Schaff concluded by saying he hopes the technology is implemented nationwide by the end of next year.

Related source: RT.com

Domestic Assault

Ramsey County Domestic Violence Sweep Huge Success

Ramsey County police took part in the 12th annual domestic violence crackdown on Wednesday, and officers say the sweep was a huge success.

Armed with 128 arrest warrants, 52 of Ramsey’s finest hit the streets before the sun came up to serve warrants to those in the area wanted on domestic violence charges. One of the first to be arrested was Kong Meng Yang, who jumped from a second story window and fled down an alley when cops came knocking at his door at 7 a.m. He was eventually apprehended with the assistance of a police K9.

Yang was one of 23 arrests made during the annual sweep, nearly double the arrests from last year when 92 warrants were served and 12 were arrested.

Sgt. Jesse Mollner said even though only about 20 percent of the suspects were apprehended, police made numerous contacts with friends and family members of suspects. They hope family members can get in contact with the individual and convince them to surrender. Mollner also said it helps the victims know they don’t take these cases lightly.

“The number of contacts we made today is actually just as important as taking people to jail,” Mollner said. “The families we talked to, the friends, the associates … they get the word out that the police are out in full force, that we’re taking care of victims and taking these crimes seriously.”

Part of Larger Sweep

The 12th annual domestic violence sweep was held in conjunction with the National Family Violence Apprehension Detail, an annual event aimed at bringing awareness to domestic violence and getting perpetrators off the streets. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country participated in localized domestic violence sweeps.

Mollner added that the effects of the sweep are usually felt for weeks.

“We expect a flood of phone calls,” he said. “We usually end up taking twice as many people in during the weeks that follow the sweep than we do during the sweep itself,” he said.

The Ramsey County sherriff’s office, St. Paul police, Roseville police, the Dakota County sherriff’s officer, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigation and Customs Enforcement all assisted in the area-wide sweep.

Avery Appelman Comments

These sweeps are great. Not only to they get suspects off the street, but in the long run, they also help both the victims and the suspects. If a suspect goes into hiding for a few months, the victim is left without resolution, and sometimes they continue to live in fear of their attacker.

That said, as a defense attorney, these sweeps are also beneficial for suspects. Like an unpaid credit card bill, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; In fact, it usually only makes it worse. Same goes with a legal case. If you have an active warrant, it’s not just going to go away on its own. Facing the consequences and moving on with your life is much preferred to hiding and always living in fear that today is the day you’ll be arrested. The longer you wait, the more the problem will snowball. Take responsibility, move forward with your life, and everyone will be better off. If you want to talk to an attorney before making any decisions, don’t hesitate to call us.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Green Line

So Far, So Good: Green Line Hasn’t Increased Crime

Despite concerns the new Green Line light rail may bring more crime to the area, University officials and Metro police say that hasn’t been the case in the five months since the transit system opened.

Metro Transit police Capt. Jim Franklin said crime rates have remained steady on campus and in the area along the Green Line.

“I don’t see an uptick in crime on the University campus that directly correlates with the light rail,” said Franklin.

Franklin noted that while many along the Green Line were excited about its mid-June opening, some feared the rail would attract a few seedy characters. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota did little to quell their concern, as a survey of community members near the Blue Line found that they too associated the light rail with an uptick in crime, even if the data doesn’t support their sentiment.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner did note a particular instance in late August in which two suspects used the light rail to flee after a robbery, but surveillance equipment near the station and on the rail helped identify the perpetrators. They were identified and arrested shortly thereafter.

Campus Opinion

Ross Allanson, director of the University’s Parking and Transportation Services said the overall sentiment among students hasn’t changed much with the opening of the Green Line.

“My feeling is that there’s been not a net negative or a net positive regarding crime on campus,” said Allanson.

Franklin added that transit use numbers around the campus area show that students are comfortable riding the light rail, offering a speedy option without the need to walk alone at night.

“I think what you’re finding is that students are embracing the light rail rather than fearing it,” Franklin said, “and we’re seeing that in our ridership numbers.”

Avery Appelman comments

The Green Line appears to be off to a great start in its first five months, and I haven’t heard any major stories about riders being victimized or assaulted. It seems like drivers or pedestrians crossing the light rail have had the most to fear since its inception.

The one thing I will caution riders about – and this goes for anyone in a downtown metropolis or on public transportation – is to mind your belongings, particularly your phone and purse. They can be easy targets for a thief who wants to grab and dash.

That’s not saying you shouldn’t check your phone or pound out a few Candy Crush levels while you’re waiting for your stop, but be cognizant of your surroundings. If someone is hovering a little too close to your personal space, secure your belongings and move to another location if possible. Stay near other passengers and if transit police board your car, it doesn’t hurt to mention the suspicious behavior.

Related source: MN Daily

We Willy

Wet Willy Lands Minnesota Man in Jail

An innocent prank resulted in felony assault charges after an Air Force member gave a Mankato cop a wet willy.

For those of you unfamiliar with a wet willy, it involves licking your pointer finger and sticking it playfully in the ear of an unsuspecting victim. It’s a move you’ve probably pulled off to a friend in elementary school, and while most people laugh it off, a Mankato cop took serious offense to the action and arrested the perpetrator on charges of felony assault of an officer.

The whole ordeal began early Saturday morning as patrons boarded a bus shuttle from the downtown bars, often referred to as the drunk bus. Being the prankster that he is, Riley Swearingen thought it would be funny to give the supervising police officer the dreaded double wet willy. It may be somewhat disgusting and technically a case of unwanted touching, but the officer said the act caused “pressure and discomfort,” and he swiftly arrested Swearinger.

Odds are the cop’s ego, not his eardrums, was most affected by the wet willy, and he decided to teach the 24-year-old a lesson. Instead of charging him with a misdemeanor, the officer pushed for felony assault charges.

Thankfully the embarrassed cop wasn’t in charge of sentencing, and the presiding judge quickly offered to dismiss the felony charge if Swearingen would plead guilty to a lesser charge of disruptive intoxication, a charge that would not impact his Air Force duties. Swearingen accepted the deal and offered the court an apology.

“I thought it would be incredibly funny to give a police officer a wet Willy, to which I was sorely mistaken,” Swearingen explained. “I’m incredibly sorry for what I did.”

Odds are the $77 fine and misdemeanor charge are the least of his concerns. Swearingen went on to explain to the judge that he was in town to stand up in a friend’s wedding. He had gone out with the wedding party the night before and received a wet willy from a friend earlier in the night. He thought it would be funny to try to move on a policeman, but the officer’s decision to seek felony charges meant Swearinger would remain in jail until he could face a judge on Monday. He was held over the weekend and missed his friend’s wedding.

Obviously Swearinger made a poor decision, but when did a wet willy become felony assault? Under the Minnesota statue in regards to assaulting an officer, a perp could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fines up to $20,000. No judge in their right mind would ever sentence a wet willy bandit to 20 years in prison, but were felony charges really necessary? This sounds more like an ego-issue than an actual issue.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Excessive Force

St. Paul Settles For $42,500 in Excessive Force Case

The city of St. Paul will pay a local man $42,500 to settle an excessive force case levied against two city officers.

Rafael Angel Diaz, 52, sued the St. Paul police department after he claimed a pair of officers illegally entered his home, used a Taser on him several times and broke his wrist during an altercation.

“The damage amount for the injuries sustained here, a broken wrist and some injuries due to the Taser deployment, is consistent with the medical cost associated with those injuries,” said city attorney Sara Grewing said. “Getting this resolved before a jury trial was in the best interests of the taxpayers.”

While it wasn’t a condition of the settlement, the city noted that the officer at the center of the case, Jon Fish, is no longer employed by the police department.

Case Details

According to the suit, Diaz was having a Super Bowl party in February 2012 when Officer Fish arrived on scene. Fish entered the residence without permission and sought out the homeowner. Fish confronted Diaz and told him to step outside, but the homeowner refused. After a failed attempt to shoot Diaz with a stun gun, Fish manually Tasered the homeowner several times. Diaz’s wrist was fractured during the fracas.

The city argued that the force used by Fish and his partner “was reasonable under all of the circumstances for officer safety,” but the city didn’t want to take a chance in court, so they opted to settle. Diaz’s original suit asked for $50,000 in damages, so it appears he had a good chance of winning in court if the city was winning to settle for 85 percent. As is common in most settlements, the city will not admit liability as part of the agreement.

The $42,500 settlement brings the annual misconduct claim total to $287,000. That’s similar to last year when the city paid $350,000 in misconduct claims, but it’s down from 2012 when the bill top $1 million.

“If you look at settlements through a 10-year lens, they kind of ebb and flow and there’s no way to predict when one year will be higher,” concluded Grewing.

Related Source: Pioneer Press

5 Interesting and Informative Criminal Law Infographics

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of writing a bunch of sentences, today we’re going to let some infographics do the talking. Check out these five cool and informative inforgraphics below!

1. DUI and Field Sobriety Tests

The above infographic explains what will happen to you if you get pulled over and are suspected of driving drunk. It also lets you know what the officer is looking for during the test so you can avoid a costly mistake.

2. The Tragedy of Wrongful Convictions

This infographic provides a harsh look at the times that the criminal justice system got it wrong.

3. Defense Attorneys Vs. Prosecutors

You probably know the basic differences between a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney, but there’s a lot more to it than trying to prove guilt and innocence.  This infographic breaks it all down.

4. From Playground to Prison – A Closer Look At Juvenile Justice in America

As the title foreshadows, this infographic examines the juvenile justice system, specifically when youth offenders are tried and sentenced as adults. Did you know about 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced or incarcerated as an adult each year in the US? Click on for more sobering facts.

5. DUI Penalties in Minnesota

We’re proud to call this infographic our own! We put this infographic together a few years ago, and it explains what happens if you are stopped for driving under the influence in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The most important piece of advice is located in the bottom righthand corner.

Minnesota DWI

Underage Drinking

Police Cracking Down on Underage Drinking at U of M

Minneapolis police are partnering up with campus police at the University of Minnesota to combat underage drinking, which officers say is a contributing factor in many incidents.

UMPD Chief Greg Hestness said intoxicated individuals, especially those who are underage, are easy marks for would-be criminals.

“A lot of victims were under the influence of alcohol, which made them easy targets for crimes,” said Hestness in reference to a string of robberies that hit the UM campus last fall. “Not in all cases, but it’s a factor.”

The university has long since trumpeted its “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking, but punishing the crime and taking active steps to prevent it are two different matters. Under added pressure from student and parent groups, campus police sent three plainclothes officers to popular drinking destinations during the first weekend of September. They issued 89 underage drinking citations in Dinkytown and the other two undisclosed locations, and they say they plan to continue sending undercover officers to the areas in an effort to prevent intoxicated students from becoming victims.

Minneapolis police inspector Kathy Waite said not only are intoxicated students easy targets for thieves, but they’re often too inebriated to assist in the investigation.

“Most of our victims are heavily under the influence of alcohol,” said Waite. “They don’t even necessarily recall where they were. It makes it extremely difficult to move forward on those investigations.”

Hestness added that he might be seen as “blaming the victim,” but he noted that being intoxicated and walking alone certainly “increase your risk” of being targeted by criminals.

Going Forward

Although the Zombie Pub Crawl is in the rear view mirror, Halloween is a few weeks away and partiers should take some steps to help ensure their safety, including:

• Avoid becoming extremely intoxicated.

• Avoid wandering off by yourself – Stay with your group.

• Keep your guard up for any suspicious individuals.

• Report any suspicious activity.

• Utilize public transportation, like cabs, buses or Uber to get home quickly and safely.

We always tend to see an uptick in calls on Halloween, and with the holiday falling on a Friday this year, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a noticeable uptick in crime. This doesn’t mean there will be more cases of assault of theft, but certain juvenile crimes like disturbing the peace (ding dong ditching) and vandalism (teepeeing) are commonplace on All Hallows Eve. We don’t condone the activity, but if you find yourself in a pair of handcuffs after a Halloween prank goes awry, call us. We’ll be on call through the night and can get you out of jail quickly.

Related source: Star Tribune

by Appelman Law Firm