This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed January 31, 2006
Dakota County District Court
File No. K5-03-03634
Elliott Knetsch, Alina Schwartz, Campbell Knutson, Professional Association, 1380 Corporate Center Curve, Suite 317, Eagan, MN 55121 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
After a bench trial, the district court found appellant guilty of misdemeanor obstructing legal process and disorderly conduct. The evidence at trial showed that in October 2003 appellant and his neighbor had a verbal altercation. Afraid that things were getting out of control, the neighbor called the police and reported that appellant had “chest butted” him.
When officers responded, they found appellant at the end of his driveway shoveling debris. One officer asked appellant four times to drop the shovel. After appellant threw the shovel onto his dump truck, the officer advised him that he was under arrest and asked him three times to kneel. When appellant finally kneeled, two officers tried to handcuff him. As appellant attempted to get up, an officer pushed him to the ground, causing him to hit the right side of his head on the pavement. Appellant began bleeding from his right ear and lay on the ground moaning while the paramedics were called.
The state charged appellant with fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and obstructing legal process. Based on his admission that he called his neighbor an “asshole” and the neighbor’s testimony that appellant’s yelling and name-calling caused him to feel anger, alarm, and resentment, the district court determined that appellant committed disorderly conduct. The district court also determined that by refusing to drop the shovel after being asked four times to do so, appellant interfered with and obstructed police officers legitimately engaged in the performance of their official duties.
This appeal from the judgment of conviction followed.
When reviewing a
sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge, this court has authority only to
ascertain whether, given the facts in the record and the legitimate inferences
that can be drawn from those facts, the district court could reasonably
conclude that the defendant was guilty of the offense charged. State
Appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction of obstructing legal process. Whoever intentionally “obstructs, resists, or interferes with a peace officer while the officer is engaged in the performance of official duties” is guilty of obstructing legal process. Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2) (2002).
The two police officers who confronted appellant were engaged in the performance of their official duties, responding to a neighbor’s call, and the evidence sufficiently shows that appellant interfered with the performance of those duties by refusing to drop the shovel and by refusing to kneel when asked to do so. Appellant admitted that he refused to drop the shovel when asked. A police transcript of a recording of the events confirms that an officer asked appellant four times to drop the shovel. The transcript also reveals that the same officer asked appellant four times to kneel before appellant complied. This evidence requires that we affirm the district court’s determination that appellant obstructed legal process.
that his conviction of obstructing legal process must be reversed because he
was illegally arrested with excessive force.
But because his refusal to drop the shovel gave police probable cause to
arrest him for obstructing legal process, appellant was not illegally
arrested. And even if the arrest were
not for proper cause, appellant did not have a right to resist arrest. State
v. Wick, 331 N.W.2d 769, 771 (
A police officer’s use of excessive force in the course of conducting an arrest justifies a defendant’s resistance only when the use of force is unjustified and precedesthe defendant’s resistance. See Hill v. Scott, 349 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir. 2003) (rejecting appellant’s claim that he had a right to resist arrest to defend himself from use of excessive force where officers used force in response to appellant’s resistance); Wick, 331 N.W.2d at 771 (stating that “while a defendant would have a right to resist an officer in order to defend himself or another against unjustified bodily attack, assaultive conduct is not justifiable solely on the ground that the officers are violating the defendant’s fourth amendment rights or on the ground that the defendant believes that the officers are violating his rights”). Because the alleged use of excessive force followed appellant’s attempt to get up while he was being handcuffed, the use of force did not excuse appellant’s resistance.
argues that the evidence is insufficient to justify his conviction of
disorderly conduct. Whoever
intentionally “[e]ngages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy
conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to
arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others” is guilty of disorderly
conduct. Minn. Stat. § 609.72, subd.
1(3) (2002). Actual commotion need not
occur. State v. Soukup, 656 N.W.2d 424, 428 (
The evidence in this case is sufficient to support the district court’s determination that appellant’s words and conduct aroused anger and resentment in his neighbor. The neighbor testified that appellant walked onto his property, engaged in abusive language toward him, and chest-butted him. He also testified that he was a bit scared and extremely worried that appellant would return to physically harm him. Appellant admitted that he engaged in abusive language. On this evidence, the district court could reasonably conclude that appellant’s conduct constituted disorderly conduct. See State v. Head, 561 N.W.2d 182, 188 (Minn. App. 1997) (stating that a conviction may rest on the testimony of a single, credible witness), review denied (Minn. May 28, 1997).
Appellant argues that the failure of the police to comply with the department procedure for investigating a complaint and conducting an arrest resulted in the violation of his equal-protection rights. Because appellant has not specified how police conduct violated the constitution, we are unable to consider his claim.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.