Category Archives: Violent Crime

Cespedes

Violence Mars Home Run Derby 2014

All eyes were on Minneapolis on last night as some of baseball’s biggest stars took center stage at the 2014 Home Run Derby. Fans expected to see a show, but they were instead treated to a crime spree that would make Bonnie and Clyde blush.

After the event unfolded police charged Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes with 30 counts of assault with a deadly weapon after he violently smashed 30 baseballs towards spectators who had unwisely chosen to sit in the left field bleachers. Cespedes could face punishments of up to 20 years in jail and fines up to $20,000 If he is found guilty of Assault in the First Degree.

Cespedes wasn’t the only All-Star who faced charges at the end of the night. Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was booked on a Weapons Charge for carrying his Louisville Slugger bat in a crowded area. Authorities decided to move forward with charges after witnessing Stanton hit a baseball that was projected to travel 511 feet.

And last but not least, Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig was taken into custody on a Breach of Contract violation. Puig entered the Home Run Derby with much fanfare, but he failed to hit a single ball over the fence. Authorities felt that his inability to hit a single home run during a home run exhibition was enough of an injustice to charge the young slugger with Breach of Contract.

Despite their alleged crimes, all three players are expected to participate in the 2014 All-Star game, which gets underway at 7 p.m. tonight.

Dog Drive

Monday Morning Musings: Weird DUI Stories 

It can be tough to get out of bed when Monday morning rolls around, but you can take solace knowing that you’re not one of these people who earned a DUI in some of the weirdest ways possible.

Dog Days DUI – A Florida man was arrested for DUI and animal cruelty after leaving his dog in the car while he ran into a store to do some shopping. Mark Terrell was originally only going to be charged with animal cruelty, but when he returned to his vehicle, officers noticed that he “appeared to be highly intoxicated.” Terrell thought he had a fool proof plan to get out of the DUI charge. He told the officers he was drunk, but he said he received a ride to the store.

From his dog.

That’s right. Terrell told officers that his dog had driven him to the store for groceries. Not surprisingly, the officers weren’t buying his “tail.” Terrell was booked, and animal control took custody of the pup.

Christmas in June – A Michigan man just couldn’t wait for winter late last month when he decided to take his snowmobile for a drive on an 84 degree day. It wasn’t his wisest decision considering he had consumed a few too many alcoholic beverages earlier that day.

The unnamed 43-year old was unable to keep his snowmobile under control, and his ride came to a screeching halt when he drove headfirst into a tree. A concerned citizen called police, and they booked the snowmobiler on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Michigan Madness – Not to be outdone, another Michigan man was cited for a weird DUI after taking his tractor for a joyride down a residential neighborhood. Police responded to a call about a tractor in a residential area only to find Joshua Vieau, 35, riding shirtless on top of his John Deere tractor. Authorities activated their lights and sirens, but when Vieau became aware of their presence, he turned his tractor around and drove directly at the squad cars!

The police were able to get their squad cars out of the way of the slow moving tractor, but Vieau came back for more. He made a U-turn on a side street, but was again unsuccessful at ramming the police vehicles. They say the third time is the charm, and Vieau proved that sentiment correct after again whipping a U-turn and driving headlong at the officers. Vieau hit a squad car on his third pass, but the impact caused his tractor to roll onto its side. After a brief attempt to flee the scene on foot, officers were able to apprehend Vieau with the help of a Taser. He was booked for DUI and two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and fleeing an officer.

Have you heard of a stange DUI? Email it to us at inco@aacriminallaw.com

Violent Crime mn

Violent Crime In Minnesota On The Rise

Authorities believe a growing drug trade in Minnesota is the main reason why violent crime increased in 2013.

The findings are part of a comprehensive crime report released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday. After comparing the data to 2012 findings, the MCBA discovered:

  • The murder rate increased 21 percent in 2013.
  • Although burglaries were down, the value of the stolen items taken during a robbery or motor vehicle theft increased in 2013.
  • There were 559 more narcotic-related arrests last year than in 2012.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi believes the last statistic is the reason violent crime is increasing across the state.

“I think the violent crime is definitely drug driven,” said Amazi. “I think the methamphetamine obviously plays a role in that, but I also see that the heroin and prescription painkillers are definitely driving that as well.”

Amazi said the issue is two-fold. She noted that more drugs are entering Minnesota, and released convicts aren’t getting the necessary counseling to rid them of their habits.

“Probably about 95 percent are in jail because of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both,” Amazi said. “We don’t very often arrest sober people.”

Amazi said the first stage of intervention needs to come from family and friends, but that can be problematic if those individuals abuse drugs too.

“Only the first names are changing in our jail and that’s probably the biggest issue,” said Amazi. “The family is definitely the biggest issue in combating drug abuse.”

To see the 183-page report in it’s entirety, click here.

Related source: KAALTV.com

Police Body Cameras

Police Body Cameras Would Cut Crime

If you’ve been following the debate over whether or not police officers should wear mounted cameras while they are out on patrol, you’re probably familiar with the experiment in Rialto, California.

Back in 2012, officers in Rialto decided to equip themselves with body cameras for one year to see if they would help reduce complaints and provide stronger evidence in “he said, she said” situations. At the end of the year, the Rialto police department crunched the numbers and found:

  • Use of force by officers dropped by 60 percent (61 compared to 25).
  • Complaints against officers fell by 88 percent (24 compared to 3).

Video evidence collected during citizen encounters was also used to support an officers re-telling of events in many cases. In all, the body camera trial was a rousing success.

So Why The Hesitancy?

Despite the findings in the Rialto study, precincts and departments are still leery about outfitting their officers with cameras. As the Associated Press puts it, “most law enforcement officials [say that] the lack of clear guidelines on the cameras’ use could potentially undermine departments’ goals of creating greater accountability of officers and jeopardize the privacy of both the public and law enforcement officers.”

To us, that just sounds like an excuse to bury the issue under a gob of bureaucratic red tape. Rialto police chief Williams A. Farrar had the right idea when he said, “When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better. And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”

It’s a no-lose situation. Citizens don’t need to fear excessive force or an officer who doesn’t know the law, and officers don’t have to fear a frivolous suit by someone looking for a payday.

Attorney Mel Welch extrapolated on the point, saying that there were a few key reasons why body cameras would be beneficial.

“It is a win-win for all involved to have law enforcement wear cameras: there is objective evidence to corroborate their accounts of an incident,” said Welch. “It keeps law enforcement honest, which is important because:

  • They have guns; and
  • They have the authority to use those guns;

Also, this will help expedite the wheels of justice because those accused:

  • Will not have their backs up against a proverbial and literal wall as a result of police abuse; and
  • They will be able to rely better upon the objective account of evidence in coming to terms with the accusations.”

You can make the case that the cameras are too costly, and in some cases they may be, but don’t tell us it could “undermine accountability.” When you factor in the money they’ll save by preventing frivolous suits, it’s not hard to see how the cameras could quickly pay for themselves.

Related source: AP, Web Pro News

Hope Solo

US Soccer Star Solo Arrested for Assault 

U.S. Women’s National Team goalie Hope Solo was arrested for assault over the weekend after witnesses say she struck her sister and nephew at a family gathering.

We’ve been theorizing how red card fouls in the World Cup would translate to assault charges if the aggression occurred off the pitch, but it appears that Solo won’t escape this situation with a simple red card. According to the police report, Solo would not stop “hitting people” or leave the home where the incident occurred.

Officers arrived at the residence and reported that they could hear the disturbance. Once inside, they noted that Solo appeared “intoxicated and upset,” and they determined she was the “primary aggressor and had instigated the assault,” which left her sister and 17-year-old nephew with visible injuries.

Solo was arrested on two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault. She will make an appearance this afternoon at Kirkland Municipal Court.

No Stranger to Controversy

This isn’t the first time the soccer star has made headlines for the wrong reasons. Besides making waves for her criticism of some former teammates and coaches, Solo was also involved in a domestic disturbance the night before her wedding.

According to the 2012 report, Solo and her fiancé Jerramy Stevens, a former tight end for the Seattle Seahawks, got into a heated argument a day before their wedding. Stevens was arrested while authorities investigated a possible assault, but he was never charged. The pair got married the following day.

Reached by email to comment on the latest incident, Solo’s attorney Toddy Maybrown said, “”Hope is not guilty of any crime. In fact, our investigation reveals that Hope was assaulted and injured during this unfortunate incident. We look forward to the opportunity to present the true facts in court and to having this matter behind Hope very soon.”

Related source: CNN, ESPN

Alex Song

Alex Song’s Assault Earns Red Card for Cameroon

Yesterday’s post about the World Cup mentioned that Portugal’s Pepe had the most discussed red card in this year’s tournament, but Pepe’s headbutt may have been upstaged by Alex Song’s hybrid punch/People’s Elbow.

The elbow heard round the world occurred just moments after two Cameroon players collided with one another in the attacking end. Croatia gained control of the ball and looked to push for a counterattack. As the players were rushing to get back to the other side of the pitch, Song bumped into Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic. Frustrated that his progress was impeded and that his team was down 1-0, Song threw a running elbow punch into Mandzukic’s back. Check out a video of the play below.

Gif provided by Who Ate All The Pies

The Croatian forward fell like there was a sniper in the building, and the whole incident unfolded in clear view of referee Pedro Proenca. The Portuguese referee wasted little time showing Song a red card, which forced Cameroon to finish the game with 10 men. Croatia went on to score three more goals to eliminate Cameroon from the World Cup by a score of 4-0.

Avery Explains Another Assault

Alex Song’s intentional elbowing of Mario Mandzukic was, by definition, a clear case of assault. There are three key points in Minnesota’s Assault statute that must be met for the crime of assault to have taken place.

  • Intent
  • An act
  • Harm

For a person to commit assault, they must partake in an act, with the intention of causing harm or the threat of harm.

As you watch the replay, it’s clear that Song committed the act with the intent of harming Mandzukic. Any city attorney worth a lick would prosecute that offense.

Hood disease

Youth Crime: Accepting Affuenza and Punishing PTSD

Back in February we heard the story of Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old boy who drove drunk and killed four people on a Texas highway. Couch’s attorneys argued at trial that the child’s parents were partly to blame because they gave their son everything he wanted and failed to set limits or discipline him. His attorneys painted the child as a victim of “affluenza” – the result of a wealthy and privileged life.

Many who followed the case cried foul when the teen was sentenced to 10 years of probation. Prosecutors had asked for a 20-year jail sentence, but the judge ultimately decided probation was the better route. If Couch has one misstep in the next 10 years, he faces the possibility of 10 years in jail.

PTSD in the Inner City

Another mental disorder is plaguing youth of a different breed – Inner city youth exposed to crime and violence on a regular basis. According to research presented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention, one in three urban youth have mild to severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Youth living in inner cities show a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder than soldiers,” said Dr. Howard Spivak, director of the Violence Prevention Program.

Another expert, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade of San Francisco State University, said important aspects of a teen’s life fall by the wayside when crime and violence are interjected into their life.

“You could take anyone who is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, and the things we are currently emphasizing in school will fall off their radar,” said Duncan-Andrade. “Because frankly it does not matter in our biology if we don’t survive the walk home.”

Unlike “affluenza,” PTSD in inner city youth doesn’t get such a glamorous moniker. The slang nickname for the mental issue is “hood disease,” and rarely do judges give the benefit of the doubt to inner city minorities who commit much less heinous crimes than Ethan Couch.

Olis Simmons, CEO of Youth Uprising, said people don’t want to help those with “hood disease.” They’d rather just pretend it doesn’t exist.

“Terms like ‘hood disease’ mean it’s someone else’s problem, but it’s not. That’s a lie. It’s a collective problem, and the question is what are we prepared to do about it?”

Mel Welch comments

These conditions are reflective of our jurisprudence of rehabilitation rather than retribution. When that is the motivating consideration, naturally a person’s life and potential wayward influences will be closely examined. Much criticism is leveled at this approach, but it is really a redux of the retribution-rehabilitation debate.

With “hood disease,” as in the case of “Affluenza,” the question is whether these youths, who have been so influenced by the norms in their environs, can develop the “evil intent” (mens rea), which is what is prohibited by law. A person can accidentally do a forbidden act (e.g., cause a death through a series of unforeseen and unforeseeable incidents) and the law doesn’t (or shouldn’t) punish that.

Do these youths have the wrongful intent when they commit the crime, or have they been so affected by their social constructs that they can’t reasonably discern the consequences of their actions? I’d love to see more research done on the subject, as far too often teens are shipped off to prison instead of getting the mental treatment they so desperately need.

Related source: CBS San Francisco

Minnesota Gun Laws

Minneapolis Police Outline Summer Crackdown on Gun Crime

Minneapolis police have outlined a plan to cut down on gun violence this summer on the city’s north side.

The decision to amp up patrols along the city’s north side was made after crime data revealed a surge in gun related incidents. There were 1,442 gun incidents in Minneapolis in 2013, up eight percent from 2012 and the highest figure since 2008.

 Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said the goal is to strengthen the relationship between police officers and community members in the city’s north side.

“It’s about commitment and synergy; this is just the beginning,” Harteau said.

Patrol, Patrol, Patrol

In hopes of cutting down on gun crime, law enforcement officials have created a three-pronged patrol approach. It involves:

  • Joint Enforcement Team patrols with other law enforcement agencies
  • Increased foot and bike patrols
  • Civilian Patrols

The JET patrols are designed to help more officers get acquainted with the neighborhood, while officials hope the civilian patrols foster the idea that everyone in the community is responsible for eliminating gun violence.

V.J. Smith, president of MAD DADS, said the first civilian patrol was a success.

“We took a group of young men out with us that were formerly in gangs,” Smith said. “What we want to do is not to only patrol but to show them what it’s like to give back.”

Authorities also noted that they plan to aggressively prosecute gun crimes in federal court, meaning it’s even more important for individuals to retain counsel in the event they are charged with a crime.

Gun Crime Penalties in Minneapolis

Gun crime penalties in Minnesota carry stiff penalties, and a person can face a mandatory minimum sentence if they commit a crime while in possession of a gun. Even possessing a gun is illegal if the carrier doesn’t have a permit for the weapon.

A person may apply for a permit to carry a weapon unless:

  • They have a prior conviction that makes gun possession illegal.
  • They have a juvenile delinquency adjudication for violation of a criminal statute.
  • They have a history of mental illness or chemical dependency.

A person who is found guilty of possessing a gun without a permit in Minnesota has committed a gross misdemeanor and can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and/or a fine up to $3,000. Any additional crimes committed while in possession of the gun can aggravate the charge, meaning you could spend years in prison for your actions.

Related source: Albert Lea Tribune

Graduation Bomb

Woman Calls In Bomb Threat To Avoid Graduation

A 22-year-old woman phoned in a bomb threat to Quinnipiac University in hopes that it would prevent her family from learning that she wasn’t graduating like they expected.

It all began earlier this year when Danielle Shea told her mother that she needed money to pay for education expenses. Shea hadn’t actually enrolled in classes, opting to coast off her mother’s money for a few months. There was one giant problem with Shea’s plan, though. She had told family members that she would be graduating following the Spring Semester.

As graduation neared, Shea attempted to figure a way out of her lie. Instead, she decided to dig herself into a deeper hole.

Graduation Sunday

Donning a cap and gown she purchased on her own, Shea led her family to the graduation ceremony. Relatives thought something was amiss when they didn’t see Shea’s name on the graduation roster, and that’s when she sprung into action. About 20 minutes before the ceremony began, Shea excused herself and placed a call to the university’s public safety department, stating that there was a “bomb in the library.”

Officials planned to continue with the graduation ceremony while they investigated the threat, so Shea placed another call 20 minutes later, saying there were “several bombs on campus,” and noted, “You haven’t cleared out graduation. That’s not a good idea.”

Unfortunately for Shea, she didn’t follow Tip #1 when it comes to phoning in a false bomb threat – Don’t use your own cellphone to call in the threat. Hamden and university police quickly traced the call back to Shea’s phone. They arrived at graduation and quickly placed the 22-year-old in handcuffs.

Shea was charged with first degree threatening and falsely reporting an incident. She will be arraigned today in Meriden Superior Court.

Had the incident occurred in Minnesota, Shea could have faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 under Minnesota Statute 609.713.

Related source: Star Tribune

Phillip Nelson

Former Gophers Quarterback Nelson Charged With Assault

Former Minnesota Gophers quarterback Phillip Nelson has been charged with one count of first-degree assault and one count of third-degree assault following an altercation outside a Mankato bar.

Police allege that Nelson, who transferred to Rutgers University this offseason,  kicked 24-year-old Isaac Kolstad in the head while he was lying on the ground after being knocked down by an unidentified individual. Kolstad, a former Minnesota State-Mankato linebacker, was hospitalized in critical condition after the altercation. His father said Issac continues to fight for his life Tuesday.

“He is currently in critical condition and fighting for his life,” Blaine Kolstad wrote on CaringBridge.com. “He is young and strong, but the battle he has in front of him is enormous. … We do know that his brain did sustain permanent damage. We do not yet know to what extent and won’t for many days. He is very sick. Please pray for Isaac and all of those involved.”

Nelson’s Role

Police are still trying to collect statements from potential witnesses, but there seems to be some disagreement about Nelson’s role in the fight. A police sergeant who watched video surveillance of the incident said Kolstad started the fight by punching Nelson in the back. Kolstad was later suckerpunched by an unidentified individual, and that’s when police allege that Nelson took things too far.

“Nelson pushes past others, approaches I.K. and delivers at least one kick to the left side of I.K.’s head,” the police complaint reads. “Sergeant Knutson noted that the video clearly shows that I.K. was defenseless as Nelson delivers the kick or kicks to the head.”

Despite the video evidence, Nelson’s attorney said it was the unidentified individual who threw the devastating blow that caused Kolstad’s injuries, and his client only acted after being hit.

Nelson “was not an aggressor in this situation,” said attorney Jim Fleming.

Court Appearance

Nelson appeared in court Monday for his initial appearance in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs on his wrists and chains on his ankles. He posted bail and was released from the Blue Earth County Jail on Monday night.

If found guilty, Nelson could face up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines on the first-degree assault charge. Nelson could face even stiffer punishments if Kolstad succumbs to his injuries

Police are seeking the public’s health in identifying the person in the white shirt seen running across the street in the video below. Contact a local police department if you have any information about the suspect or the incident.

Related source: ESPN