Street brawl leaves research asst. in hospital

A University of Minnesota research assistant was hospitalized after a fight outside a Northeast Minneapolis bar left her with a broken leg.

by Ian Larson

A University of Minnesota research assistant was hospitalized after a fight outside a Northeast Minneapolis bar left her with a broken leg, according to a Minneapolis police report. Lauren DeLand, a 28-year-old art history research assistant, and four friends were assaulted by two men early Sunday morning outside the U Otter Stop Inn on Central Avenue Southeast, DeLand said. According to DeLand, one of her friends narrowly avoided a âÄúcurb stompâÄù when an assailant put the manâÄôs face on the sidewalk curb and tried to kick him in the back of his head. The incident began when DeLand and her friends arrived at the bar and a short, âÄúruddyâÄù man wearing a University sweatshirt and scarf âÄúhassledâÄù them and tried to sell them marijuana despite their attempts to âÄúbrush him off,âÄù DeLand said. DeLand and her friends left the bar at closing time, and the man, now accompanied by a second college-age, âÄúmuscularâÄù man continued heckling them in the street. When Joe Sullivan, DeLandâÄôs boyfriend, told the men to stop, one of the assailants shoved him into a car and repeatedly punched him in the head, DeLand said. The two men assaulted DeLand and all four of the people with her, and when one of them knocked a female friend of DeLandâÄôs to the ground, Sullivan âÄútook his U-lock and smacked him on the head with it a couple of times to get him away from her,âÄù DeLand said. People filtering out of the bar witnessed the fight, but no one interceded or called police, DeLand said. A bar employee who had been checking IDs (the bar officially has no bouncer, U Otter Spot Inn owner Denise Freeman said) eventually led the second assailant away from the fray, and DeLand and her friends started to leave, she said. To the groupâÄôs surprise, the assailant who was pulled out of the scrum moments earlier blindsided Sullivan and pushed him against a car. In the ensuing fight, DeLand was knocked to the ground, fracturing several bones and tearing cartilage in her knee. The others continued to wrestle in a âÄúdog pileâÄù before breaking free, grabbing DeLand and piling into a car as the two men chased them down the street, DeLand said. The five called police and drove to the hospital, but DeLand and Sullivan were the only two who received medical treatment, according to a police report. U Otter Stop Inn employees reported that they first learned of the scuffle outside the bar when police arrived, owner Denise Freeman said. Freeman, who had been at the bar within 1 1/2 hours of the incident, said there hadnâÄôt been any complaints or suspicious behavior that night. None of the scuffle occurred in the bar, she added. âÄú[There was] not one argument, nothing,âÄù Freeman said. âÄúHad there been a problem, it would have been handled âĦ If anybody is feeling threatened in a place thatâÄôs that small, especially, all you have to do is yell, âÄòHey, bartenderâÄô and point at the guy whoâÄôs been hassling you.âÄù Minneapolis police made no arrests at the scene.