Sometimes, a defendant’s excuse is the most noteworthy component of a crime. This is especially true in the case of Qiang Du, a 22-year-old man charged with felony domestic assault.
On August 30th, police were notified of an assault that had occurred two days earlier at a business in Eagan. According to the complaint, Qiang Du followed a female acquaintance–identified in the police report as HZ–outside. He then grabbed her HZ the throat with one hand and squeezed until his mother rushed outside to stop him. HZ stated that Du “had a particular look in his eyes when he was choking her” and “was yelling at her and calling her names”.
According to the complaint, Du also made four phone calls to HZ, three of which she answered. HZ stated that during these phone calls, Du “mad comments about her daughter who still lived in China, and that she felt they were threatening.”
When police interview Qiang Du about the incident, he provided a very different story. According to Du, the alleged assault was “all a misunderstanding.” In fact, he and his mother had recently watched a Jackie Chan film and were re-enacting a scene from the movie. Du stated that in that particular scene, someone yells at another person and chokes them with one hand. When asked to clarify, Du stated that, just as he watched in the film, he grabbed HZ’s neck with his right hand and squeezed while yelling quotes from the movie. Du told officers that his mother likely intervened because she thought the kung fu maneuver was “very dangerous” because of his masculine hand. According to Du, when his mother said “Stop, don’t do that”, he ended his Jackie Chan re-enactment.
Based on his statement, Qiang Du was arrested. Obviously, police did not consider his impersonation of a kung fu icon to be a viable excuse. Du was subsequently charged with:
1. Domestic Assault by Strangulation– A felony offense punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
2. Terroristic Threats– A felony offense punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
3. Domestic Assault (2 counts)- A misdemeanor offense, each punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to MN criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman, if Qiang Du’s intention was, indeed, to simply re-enact scenes from a movie, than he would be not guilty under the definition of assault:
“To be guilty of an assault, the defendant must intentionally do the act to cause harm to another person. Specifically, the defendant must intentionally impede the breathing of the victim. However, Jackie Chan’s stunt double has already done a great disservice to his defense. Qiang Du explicitly told police specifically how he intentionally gripped the complainant’s throat, confirmed that she was a member of the household, and confirmed that he believed his mother thought the act was very dangerous. In essence, his admissions proved the prosecution’s case. While this may have otherwise played out interestingly in court, our Jackie Chan wannabe karate-chopped his chances for a favorable outcome. An all-important rule of thumb is made especially obvious here–don’t make any statements until you have an attorney present.”
If you are charged with any violent crime, the best way you can help yourself is to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Too often, defendants forgo these constitutional guarantees and effectively sabotage their defense. If you are arrested, say nothing and call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.