U police deals with fleeing students

Also, two student bystanders tried to help a man who was being harassed.

Nick Wicker

Police foot chases have become more common in recent weeks because of the University of Minnesota Police Department’s tightened enforcement of alcohol violations.

Officers will sustain their push to crack down on underage drinking and other alcohol-related violations until temperatures drop in the upcoming weeks, Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said.

Students are particularly prone to fleeing from police during alcohol-related stops and citations, Miner said. It’s a misdemeanor to flee from an officer, he said, and that charge is added atop any other citations.

“People are not always using their best judgment when they’re under the influence of alcohol,” Miner said. “They might think that they can get away.”

He said in these cases evasion is unlikely, pointing to a recent case in which officers caught up with a University student who had a blood alcohol content of 0.303 percent.

“Generally, you’re not able to run at marathon speeds when you’re at that level of intoxication,” Miner said.

Officers mull tactics for repeat offenders

For the third time in three weeks, UMPD officers arrested a repeat offender of violent crimes against law enforcement.

The 21-year-old man allegedly shoplifted a sandwich from the University Avenue Southeast Metro Petro gas station on Wednesday, Miner said.

He is not affiliated with the University and is presumed homeless, Miner said.

Over the past few weeks, the man has collected a handful of citations.

He was arrested in a bathroom stall at the Commons Hotel for trespassing on Sept. 10, Miner said, and again on Sept. 25 at the Washington Avenue Southeast Starbucks.

In two of his three arrests, the man grew violent with police.

He was wrestled to the ground at Starbucks, Miner said. And most recently, police had to resort to using a Taser and pepper spray after the man attempted to flee officers on Wednesday, he said.

“This is fairly unusual to have somebody that’s this physically aggressive with officers,” Miner said.

UMPD reached out to the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office to seek a more severe punishment for the repeat offender. Miner said one offered solution is to classify the man as a “top offender,” which would allow prosecutors to give any of the man’s future cases extra attention.

Dinkytown assault

Two University students and roommates said they were walking home from a night out early Thursday morning when they encountered a group of men harassing a man in Dinkytown.

From across the street, Ryan Kennedy and Gabriel Berlovitz said they saw a group of men loudly insulting an older man at about 1:30 a.m.

The men shoved the individual, yelled obscenities at him and eventually tried to pick him up and put him on a nearby table, Berlovitz said.

Berlovitz and Kennedy then yelled across the street for the men to stop. That’s when Kennedy said he and his friend became the aggressive group’s target.

“We said, ‘We can’t let you do this,’” Kennedy said. “Then they crossed the street towards us.”

One of the aggressors swung at Kennedy, landing a solid blow to his face and sending him careening back against the storefront window of Royal Cigar & Tobacco, Berlovitz said. When Kennedy hit the concrete sidewalk, he lost consciousness, he said.

The group then ran away, and police followed their path soon after, Berlovitz said, adding that he stayed to help his friend.

When Kennedy came to, the police had chased down and arrested the assailant but were also assaulted in the process, Kennedy said.