Pierce DA decides to charge student with obstructionA legal stalemate between River Falls police and the Pierce County district attorney appears over.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
A legal stalemate between River Falls police and the Pierce County district attorney appears over.
District Attorney John O’Boyle recently filed a misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer against Shane W. Nelson, 21, a UW-River Falls student living at 326 ½ N. Third St.
Nelson is accused of fighting to get away from the grasp of patrol officer Greg Lotze after slipping out an apartment window and jumping from an awning in the 100 block of North Main Street late at night on Sept. 7.
Nelson allegedly then grappled on the ground with Lotze, kicking at him until he was able to squirm loose and run free. Lotze sustained minor injuries and saw a doctor.
Nelson was later tracked down, questioned at his apartment, arrested, jailed and eventually released.
After getting police reports on the case, O’Boyle refused to prosecute. He said the arrest may have been done without probable cause and that Nelson was asked a question before being read his Miranda rights.
Police Chief Roger Leque said he was shocked by O’Boyle’s evaluation and unwillingness to prosecute.
The city of River Falls used its attorney to bypass O’Boyle and, in an Oct. 8 special hearing at the Pierce County Courthouse, ask Pierce County Judge Joe Boles to permit the filing of a felony charge against Nelson.
Boles delayed such unusual court action, instead getting O’Boyle to agree to review the case again and make a final decision by the end of October.
Leque said he wasn’t informed by O’Boyle that he would charge Nelson but found out about it on Monday.
“The fact that (Nelson) was charged with a misdemeanor certainly was appropriate,” Leque said. “We are happy for that, but we still believe that the evidence also supports the more serious charge of a felony.”
On Tuesday O’Boyle said he charged Nelson for a very simple reason: Police finally did what he had asked them to do.
“Lo and behold, the DA is not as dumb as they said I am,” O’Boyle said. “They went back and did what I suggested, which was to do another interview with the friend who knew Nelson, the one Nelson had (first) texted about the incident.”
O’Boyle said that later interview resulted in what he called “post-arrest admissions” that appeared to implicate Nelson in the police scuffle.
For the complete story, please see the Oct. 25 print edition of the River Falls Journal.