Man Charged in Beating of Hinckley Driving Instructor
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.
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.
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.
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.