Minneapolis officer facing tough criticism, assault charge

What would you do if you felt threatened, if you thought someone was going to hurt you? For many people, the answer is simple — act in self-defense. Under certain circumstances, when an individual is threatening or hurting you, you can respond with a certain degree of force. This is exactly what one Minneapolis police officer is claiming after he was charged with assault.

The 47-year-old sergeant and the executive officer of the Minneapolis Police Department’s SWAT unit says that when he approached a 43-year-old man to ask him to stop using profanity, he believed the man was going to hit him. So, instead of letting himself get injured, the officer punched the man. Unfortunately, the man lost his balance, fell, and hit his head on the patio.

Though self-defense is a well-recognized defense against criminal charges, the spokesperson for the Anoka County sheriff’s office had some harsh words for the officer, calling his behavior “egregious.” The spokesperson made it clear that the actions the officer took were particularly bad because he was a police officer.

Now, the officer will likely face a criminal trial unless his attorney can get the charges dropped. Even though being charged with assault, especially third-degree assault, may not seem like that serious of an issue to some people, it could have a horrible effect on this officer’s career. Having an attorney, however, can potentially get the charges dropped or lessened to something more reasonable for the alleged scuffle. An attorney can also explain why the doctrine of self defense could prevent the officer from being imprisoned at all.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Minneapolis cop charged in Andover bar fight; self-defense claimed; victim improves,” Sarah Horner and David Hanners, June 18, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.