This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Rodney Allen Coleman,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 99092461
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Jay M. Heffern, Minneapolis City Attorney, Cheri A. Townsend, Assistant City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
William E. McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Renée Bergeron, Assistant County Public Defender, Matt Holson, Law Clerk, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
Appellant Rodney Allen Coleman challenges the district court’s determination that he obstructed legal process in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2) (1998). Because the evidence shows that Coleman intentionally resisted arrest, we affirm.
The parties do not dispute the facts. On September 16, 1999, two Minneapolis police officers were working undercover as “johns” on a prostitution sting operation in Minneapolis. As the two officers sat in their unmarked vehicle, a woman approached them and asked what they were doing. The officers responded that they were “looking for a date.” The woman then got into the back seat of the vehicle. Based on the officers’ experience, they believed the woman’s behavior indicated she was a prostitute.
While the undercover officers were talking to the woman, Rodney Allen Coleman approached the driver’s side of the vehicle on his bicycle. Coleman made a “thumbs down” gesture to the woman in the back seat and started yelling “Hey po-po. You don’t know me now that you are undercover?” Coleman then circled the vehicle on his bicycle, yelling “police” and “5-0,” while pointing at the vehicle. The terms “po-po” and “5-0” are colloquialisms that refer to police.
The woman in the back seat yelled to Coleman and asked him whether he knew the two men in the car. Coleman responded that the men were police. At this point, the woman began to dig nervously in her pockets. The officers believed that the woman was foraging for a weapon. Concerned for their safety, the officers aborted the sting operation and ordered the woman out of their vehicle.
After the woman exited the vehicle, the officers started driving toward Coleman. Coleman fled on his bicycle and a chase ensued. As the police officers pursued Coleman, one of them yelled, “[P]olice. Stop.” The officer also yelled to Coleman that he was under arrest and displayed his police badge through the vehicle window. Eventually Coleman abandoned his bicycle and began running. One of the officers jumped out of the vehicle and pursued Coleman on foot.
As the officer ran after Coleman, he identified himself as a policeman and notified Coleman that he was under arrest. The officer eventually tackled Coleman and forced him to the ground. The officer repeated that he was a policeman and that he was arresting Coleman. The officer ordered Coleman to put his hands behind his back. Coleman resisted and struggled with the officer. The officer repeated his command and struck Coleman to make him comply. Coleman then put his hands behind his back and the attending officers handcuffed him.
Originally, the state charged Coleman with Gross Misdemeanor Obstructing Legal Process under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subds. 1 & 2(2) (1998). After a probable cause hearing, however, the judge dismissed the gross misdemeanor charge for lack of probable cause that Coleman acted with force or violence or threat of either, to obstruct legal process.
The state amended the charge to a misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1. On April 10, 2000, Coleman waived his right to a jury trial and the case was submitted to the district court on stipulated facts. The district court found Coleman guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of legal process. Coleman appeals.
Coleman claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for obstruction of legal process under Minn. Stat. § 609.50 (1998). In reviewing a claim of sufficiency of the evidence, our task is to review the record in the “light most favorable to the conviction to determine whether the fact-finder could have reasonably concluded that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense.” In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997) (citing Dale v. State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn. 1995)).
Under Minnesota law, an individual is guilty of obstruction of legal process if he or she intentionally resists a police officer engaged in the performance of his or her official duties. Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2). The record shows that Coleman fled from the officers after they identified themselves as police and indicated that he was under arrest. After police tackled Coleman and forced him to the ground, the arresting officer ordered Coleman to put his hands behind his back. Coleman refused to comply with the officer’s commands and attempted to pull away from the officer. The officer struck Coleman and repeated his command until Coleman acquiesced and put his hands behind his back. The officers were engaged in official duties when they apprehended and arrested Coleman. His intentional act of fleeing and resisting handcuffs constitutes obstruction of legal process under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2). See State v. Occhino, 572 N.W.2d 316, 321 (Minn. App. 1997) (recognizing defendant’s intentional physical resistance to lawful police order qualified as obstruction of legal process), review denied (Minn. Jan. 28, 1998). Even if Coleman’s arrest was unlawful, Coleman still had no right to resist the arrest. See State v. Wick, 331 N.W.2d 769, 771 (Minn. 1978) (acknowledging that Minnesota “does not recognize defendant’s asserted right to resist an unlawful arrest”); State v. Ingram, 570 N.W.2d 173, 178 (Minn. App. 1997) (indicating where seizure is unlawful, defendant may not resort to self-help of brushing police officer out of the way and fleeing), review denied (Minn. Dec. 22, 1997).
Because Coleman’s resistance to arrest supports the district court’s determination that Coleman obstructed legal process under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2), we do not reach the issue of whether Coleman’s conduct that thwarted the sting operation falls within the parameters of the statute.