High Profile Duluth Officer Assault Case Moved To Pine City

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 at 7:15 am

The trial of a Duluth police officer accused of assaulting a man in a wheelchair has been moved to Pine City. The Duluth News Tribune reports the trial of 35-year old Officer Richard Jouppi will now take place in Pine City after a judge deemed that too much media coverage of the story had happened in Duluth.

Jouppi is charged with misdemeanor fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in connection with the Sept. 21 incident, which was captured on videotape and shows the officer attempting to restrain a belligerent Anthony Jon Jackson and then punching Jackson repeatedly after Jackson struck Jouppi once in the face. The altercation happened after Jouppi took Jackson to the Duluth Detoxification Center.

The Tribune reports that Jouppi’s defense attorney requested that the trial be moved from the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth because he said his client couldn’t get a fair trial there. State District Court Judge John DeSanto granted the request. In the five-page memorandum to his order, Judge DeSanto wrote that the case is fairly simple on the legal merits, but it carries a significant burden of collateral issues including race relations, police power and city politics. He said the case was further distinguished by the considerable attention it has received from the news media and independent Internet commentators.

The media coverage included video of the incident showing Jackson slapping at Jouppi’s face and Jouppi punching Jackson several times and then taking Jackson to the floor by tipping his wheelchair over backwards. DeSanto wrote that the video has appeared on a number of Internet postings and has been viewed “tens of thousands of times” on the Internet alone. The judge noted that while some of the hundreds of web comments were favorable to Jouppi, the majority were not.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 18 at the Pine County Courthouse in Pine City.

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