This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Jose Luis Garcia Gonzales,
Filed August 10, 2004
Watonwan County District Court
File No. K1-03-113
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Lamar T. Piper, Watonwan County Attorney, Todd L. Kosovich, Assistant County Attorney, Watonwan County Courthouse, 710 Second Avenue South, P.O. Box 518, Saint James, MN 56081 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Theodora Gaitas, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue SE, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant appeals his conviction of fourth-degree assault, arguing that the evidence was insufficient because the state failed to prove that he had the specific intent to assault a police officer. Because the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to sustain the fact-finder’s conclusions, we affirm.
On March 23, 2003, Watonwan County Deputy Ryan Strum and Officer Andy Todd performed a routine walk-through at Polo’s Bar in St. James. They recognized appellant Jose Luis Garcia Gonzalez, who was dancing and holding a beer. The officers knew that appellant was too young to legally consume alcoholic beverages and believed that he was on probation with a condition that he abstain from consuming alcohol. Deputy Strum radioed the Law Enforcement Center, and a person there confirmed that appellant had been ordered not to use or possess alcohol and was subject to random testing.
The officers approached appellant and noticed that he had an odor of alcohol on his breath, he had bloodshot eyes, and his speech was slurred. The officers escorted appellant from the bar, put him in handcuffs, and placed him under arrest for violating his probation. The officers took appellant outside and told him that they would be walking across the street to the squad cars. Appellant said, “No you’re not,” planted his feet, and pushed back on the officers. The officers placed appellant on the trunk of a squad car to gain control of him, and Officer Rochelle Hanson and Deputy Chad Sanow assisted. The officers placed appellant in Officer Hanson’s squad car, where appellant repeatedly kicked the inside of the car’s window. Deputy Sanow obtained a hobble tie to restrain appellant’s legs, and the officers took appellant out of the squad car to place the restraints on him. While the officers were trying to put the restraints on appellant, appellant kicked Deputy Sanow on the right side of his face and on his chest, which caused a cut on Deputy Sanow’s right ear resulting in swelling and redness. Deputy Sanow testified that he told appellant to stop resisting several times. Appellant testified that he did not intentionally kick anyone.
The next day, appellant was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault, obstructing legal process, and underage consumption of alcohol. On May 28, 2003, appellant waived his right to a jury trial, and the trial court found appellant guilty of all charges. Several days later the trial court filed its formal order finding appellant guilty. This appeal follows.
When reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, this court examines the record and determines if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to sustain the fact-finder’s conclusions. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). This court will not reverse a decision if the fact-finder, acting with respect for the principles of presumed innocence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could have reasonably found as it did. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988). This court must assume that the fact-finder believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary. State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989). This is especially true when the resolution of the matter depends mainly on conflicting testimony. State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980).
Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of fourth-degree assault because the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had the specific intent to assault a police officer. Appellant’s claim rests on his contention that he did not specifically intend to commit fourth-degree assault on Deputy Sanow. Rather, appellant argues that he was kicking his legs because he did not want to be tied up.
The trial court found appellant guilty of felony assault in the fourth degree and gross misdemeanor assault in the fourth degree. The statute states that a person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor for assault in the fourth degree when he or she “physically assaults a peace officer . . . when that officer is effecting a lawful arrest or executing any other duty imposed by law.” Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 1 (2002). The statute also states that a person is guilty of a felony for assault in the fourth degree if “the assault inflicts demonstrable bodily harm.” Id.
Although appellant contends the state must prove that he specifically intended to commit fourth-degree assault on Deputy Sanow, the Minnesota Supreme Court has stated:
an assault involving infliction of injury of some sort requires no abstract intent to do something further, only an intent to do the prohibited physical act of committing a battery. In our case it was clear that the assault . . . took the form of actual infliction of bodily harm as opposed to the more abstract form of assault involving intent to create fear of harm. All that was required to prove this kind of assault was to show that the blows to complainant were not accidental but were intentionally inflicted.
State v. Lindahl, 309 N.W.2d 763, 767 (Minn. 1981). Here, appellant repeatedly kicked the inside of a squad car’s window, and when the officers tried to restrain him, appellant kicked Deputy Sanow on the right side of his face and on his chest. Because the assault involved actual infliction of bodily harm, all the state was required to prove was to show that the blows were not accidental but were intentionally inflicted. “Intent is an inference drawn by the [fact finder] from the totality of the circumstances. The defendant’s statements as to his intentions are not binding on the [fact finder] if defendant’s acts demonstrate a contrary intent.” State v. Raymond, 440 N.W.2d 425, 426 (Minn. 1989) (citations omitted). Here, the trial court, acting as the fact-finder, found that appellant intended to commit fourth-degree assault on Deputy Sanow when it noted that appellant “purposely kicked at the Deputy because he wanted to inflict bodily harm on him so that he would back off and let him go.” In its amended findings the trial court also noted that appellant “intended to kick any and all officers with whom he was struggling.”
Although appellant contends that he was kicking his legs because he did not want to be tied up, the trial court, as the fact-finder, may reject appellant’s exculpatory statements “if the evidence as a whole supports a finding that the actor intended the natural and probable consequences of his action.” State v. Hough, 585 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1998). Here, the evidence as a whole supports the finding that appellant intended the natural and probable consequences of his actions because appellant kicked at police officers while they were trying to restrain him; and the natural and probable consequence of this action is that a police officer would be kicked. Furthermore, on review this court must assume that the fact-finder believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary. Moore, 438 N.W.2d at 108.
The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to sustain the fact-finder’s conclusions, and, accordingly, we affirm.