Man Charged in Beating of Hinckley Driving Instructor

Friday, December 4th, 2009 at 4:20 pm


One man has been charged in the beating of Hinckley driving instructor Dwaine Palmer, 64.  Olaf Wilbert Thomas III, 21, of Brook Park is charged with four crimes for the attack which occurred Sunday morning on Lawler Avenue in Hinckley.

Chargers were filed Friday in Pine County Court.  Thomas is charged with Aiding/Abetting Simple Robbery, Aiding/Abetting Assault in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and Assault in the Second Degree.  If convicted of all charges, Thomas could serve 29-years in prison and pay $58,000 in fines.

Palmer’s wife Barbara says she has no hate towards Thomas, but can not comprehend why anyone would attack her husband.

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Olaf Wilbert Thomas III

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas was one of three men who attacked Palmer who was walking his dog.  Thomas and the two others, who are identified as “Smokey” and Aaron, allegedly knocked Palmer to the ground, began punching him in the face and stomping on his head.

The complaint states, Palmer told police he felt the men “poking around going through his pockets” during the attack.  They did not take his wallet, but did steal his cell phone from his jacket.

The two other men named in the complaint remain at large.

The assault left Palmer hospitalized at the North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale with a broken nose, jaw, and both eye sockets.  He underwent over five hours of surgery on Tuesday, but Barbara Palmer tells Red Rock Radio he is expected to come home from the hospital this weekend.

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Police were given a tip that Thomas was involved in the attack.  They interviewed him at his home in Brook Park and noticed injuries to his knuckles.

Dwaine Palmer after the attack

Dwaine Palmer after the attack

During the investigation, police were told by a woman who knows Thomas that he was boasting about the attack.  The criminal complaint states the woman said “he pointed to the marks on his hand saying ‘this is where I punched him in the teeth.’ ”

Police obtained a search warrant for Thomas’ residence and found a pair of shoes with blood on the laces.   Police also say the pattern on the sole of the shoe is consistent with the pattern noted on the skin of Palmer’s head.

Thomas was arrested Thursday and is due back in Pine County court on December 18th.  Bail is set at $100,000.

Thomas does have a prior criminal history which includes convictions for first degree criminal damage to property, fleeing a peace officer, and aid and abet burglary in the third degree.

Palmer has worked as a driving instructor in Hinckley for 42 years, and Barbara Palmer says the outpouring of support is overwhelming.

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  1. Conceal Carry 12/4/09 at 7:02pm

    If this thug and his cohorts are proven guilty, I hope they are punished to the full extent of the law. However, I can’t help but think that if Mr. Palmer would have taken advantage of his right to carry, maybe the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for jail and court costs for these scum.

  2. Kim 12/5/09 at 10:40am

    Just was wondering if this guy was wearing his native pride hat when he decided to see how bad a 21yr old could beat a 64 yr old!!!!!!

  3. James 12/5/09 at 11:20am

    What were these men thinking,to do this to an elderly man, walking his dog?

  4. James 12/5/09 at 1:50pm

    Pretty tough kiddies, picking on a elderly gentleman in a small rural town and then bragging about it to friends. If I were you three cowards, I would be embarrassed to talk about it — the fact that it took 3 of you? Seriously, 3 of you? He’s 64. Why don’t you psuedo-thugs come here to Chicago and try that crap?
    (And since I’m guessing you and your friends have the intelligence level equivalent of a 1st grader, pseudo means fake or pretend). You’ll find out what it’s like to be terrorized soon enough. There are bigger, badder people than you behind bars. Enjoy prison.

  5. Bob 12/5/09 at 6:09pm

    I really believe that county’s need to seek citizens and have them go through proper training and then deputize them, our law enforcement can’t be everywhere, especially in Pine county where it is so large. To many budget cuts = to many low lifes like these guys on the streets. We as citizens need to be looking out for our neighbors. these punks need to be punished to the fulliest!

  6. Disgusted!! 12/6/09 at 8:22am

    What an absolute dirtbag!!! Native Pride or not throw the book at them. Hope you recover okay Mr. Palmer.

  7. MEN or THUGS 12/6/09 at 12:12pm

    WTF you can not even walk the streets in some places what the hell is this world coming to when you can not even walk your dog. HOPE THEY THROW THE BOOK AT THEM ALL GET WILL SOON MR.PALMER

  8. michelle 12/6/09 at 12:47pm

    Mr. Palmer was my behind the wheel teacher he is a wonderful man. They need to get all these people and they should be put away for ever! How could anyone do this to a person my heart sunk when I saw the story on facebook.

  9. Pat 12/6/09 at 2:30pm

    Welcome Home, Dwaine!

    Glad to hear you’re heading home today and very happy to see that an arrest has been made in this episode. It looks like Hinckley has had more than its share of beatings recently; but, hopefully with the recent arrests, it will be a safer community in the future.

  10. michelle 12/6/09 at 5:03pm

    Mr.Palmer was my driving instructor he is a very wonderful man! I hope they put these guys away for a really long time. I don’t know how anyone could do this to a person. my heart sunk when I saw this on facebook.

  11. Dave Mellesmoen 12/6/09 at 5:35pm

    Dwaine took me in as a foster child back in 1973 and has been a positive influence in my life ever since. He is a strong man and will pull through this. My prayers are with you Dwaine. As for those three guys, Karma is a great equalizer. Enjoy prison fellas!

  12. SIckofviolence 12/7/09 at 9:34am

    I’m so sick of the posers and the dirt bag scum that seem to be in every dark corner in Pine and Kanabec county for sure. I agree… I hope this low life spends the next 50 years in prison. Creep.

  13. Chelsey 12/7/09 at 11:15am

    Sad that this happened in Hinckley. Mr. Palmer was also my drivers instructor. 29 years is not long enough for what they did to him. That worthless idiot should never see the light of day again!

  14. SIckofviolence 12/7/09 at 1:48pm

    They are looking for the other two… maybe one of them was the other loser that was apprehended for an assault that same morning. Same age, looks like someone they’d hang out with.

  15. Concerned citizen 12/7/09 at 9:05pm

    I truely hope the good people of this county use this terrible tradgedy and start actually doing something with these worthless people, and not just slapping their hands like usual. Like in this case this criminal already has 3 other criminal charges agianst him that he obviously only got the hand slap for, or he would not be out of jail to have done this to Mr. Palmer. These pukes need to be put away and never let out. Start setting an example for all the other worthless pukes just like him that are still roaming the streets of Hinckley. To the losers who did this I would have to say you are about the biggest pansies I have ever heard of . How proud you must be that three of you beat the hell out of a 64 yr old man, boy you must feel tough. You are about as tough as you are smart and if you need clarification on what that means here it is. (You are the dumbest puss asses around) The only tough one is Mr. Palmer, a 64 year old man who took a total beat down from THREE idiots and lived to tell the story. To you Mr. Palmer, our thoughts and prayes are with you, and I hope you have a fast recovery, our future drivers need you as I know you are a great instuctor, you taught 2 of my children to drive and you did a wonderful job, and they always spoke VERY highly of you and your dog sweetie.

  16. Bill C 12/7/09 at 9:37pm

    Mr. Palmer taught me, my 2 brothers and my mom how to drive as well as countless other relatives in Hinckley. I feel horrible that this had to happen to such a nice guy.

  17. Judy 12/8/09 at 11:10am

    It was so good to see you and Barb walk into the Lions Christmas party last nite. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.
    God’s blessings for a continued speedy recovery.

  18. Disgusted 12/8/09 at 11:43am

    HAHAHA and they should be there forever.. Previous offenses. No more second third chances its b.s put them away for good. Get the scum out of hinckley. Plamer was my driving instructor also great guy prayers are with you.

  19. Rachel 12/8/09 at 6:15pm

    I also had Mr.Palmer as a driving instructor and he is a very wonderful man! He was funny and very good hearted and made our driving lessons very fun! I hope that these jerks all get put away forever! No one deserves what he had to go threw!

  20. Hinckley resident 12/10/09 at 1:45am

    First of all to Mr. Palmer and his family, the community of Hinckley are happy you are alive and home. We pray for a complete and speedy recovery. I even pray for the suspects families hearts. Can you imagine the hurt and humiliation they feel. Way to make them proud. This unnecessary “beating” made my kids and I SICK to our stomaches! One comment was, “Those jerks must not have a Grandpa.” Jerks is even to nice of a word. Wasteful pieces of flesh. What is wrong with our system to slap them on the wrist and let them loose to commit more and worse crime in a town we can’t even let our kids walk a dog and in front of a church even???!!

  21. way to much 12/10/09 at 9:53am

    This is way to much to have happen to any one and to let it go . I do be leave that if you make a mistake once that you have the right to learn and change. Which this person seam’s that he will not make that change or to choose not to . Also the fact that some one put up the bail money to get him out is so hard to understand evan if it was his parent’s or a relative . I would not bail my son out of jail or anyone else for doing such a act . And yes I do love my children but some where along the way they must be taught that they are accountable for there actions

  22. Judy 12/10/09 at 4:53pm

    Dwaine is my cousin and I know he would never hurt anyone. That this happened to him breaks my heart. I worked with the court system for 25 years and I know how creeps like this are continually let free. Their attorneys will negotiate a plea agreement with the County Attorney and they will plea to a lesser charge and be free once again. Attorneys & Judges just want cases done & over and clear their calendars so they’re done for the day. There is no real caring for “Justice” in our system and this is where something needs to change. These characters need to be afraid of punishment rather than laughing their way out of the courthouse. It will be interesting to see what happens to these thugs.

  23. Keegan Mann 01/20/10 at 9:41pm

    Its me AGAIN. Keegan , 9th Grade and Age 15. I hear your doing well, Mr Palmer.

    And sorry that your Dog ” Sweetie ” died. See you in a Few.


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