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April trial set for man accused of running over officer's foot

April trial set for man accused of running over officer's foot

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A judge has moved to trial the case of a man accused of running over a Bismarck police officer’s foot after a traffic stop.

Austin Hale, 50, of Bismarck, is charged with reckless endangerment and simple assault on a police officer. He pleaded not guilty to both felonies Thursday.

Hale was stopped on Bismarck Expressway on Nov. 29 and cited for running a red light, having no insurance and committing a registration violation. Police say Hale grabbed the citations and sped off while the officer was standing next to the vehicle, and the left rear tire ran over the officer’s foot. The officer was not seriously injured. 

The officer who made the stop did not testify at Hale’s preliminary hearing, and was identified in court by only the last name of Miller. The department declined to release the full name to the Tribune.

Officer Klaes Sheldon Welch, who responded when the injured officer requested assistance, testified that he arrested Hale and took him to Burleigh Morton Detention Center. Welch was not at the scene when the officer was injured and hadn’t seen video of the incident.

The state shouldn’t get to capitalize on “calling a witness who doesn’t know anything,” defense attorney Jackson Lofgren said.

“There’s no evidence that (Hale) swerved at the officer, that he was trying to hit the officer’s foot, squealed tires, that he did anything to even know the officer’s foot was by the tire,” Lofgren said.

The charge of reckless endangerment is serious and the state’s evidence is not enough to move the case forward, Lofgren argued.

South Central District Judge John Grinsteiner acknowledged that Lofgren may have some defenses, “but those are going to be defenses for the jury,” the judge said. He scheduled Hale’s trial for April 13.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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