Earlier this month, we told you about a dust-up involving Fountain City Councilman Harold Thompson that ended with medical marijuana advocate Al Lender taking an elbow to the mouth -- after he called Thompson a son of a bitch, that is. Now, a special prosecutor says no charges should be filed against Thompson, who he feels was justified in defending himself against what appeared to be a physical attack.
Here's the key passage of the report by special prosecutor Thom LeDoux, district attorney for the 11th Judicial District:
In the present case, Mr. Lender confesses that he confronted Mr. Thompson, pointed at him and said, "You just took my property rights away, you son of a bitch," while within very close proximity to Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson indicated to the investigative officer on the scene that he felt threatened by Mr. Lender and as a result put Mr. Lender in an arm bar.
Although the surveillance video of the incident does not show the confrontation clearly, as it occurred on the edge of the field of view of all four cameras, the videos do show that prior to the incident, Mr. Lender was loitering near the doorway that was the only entry for the City Council chambers. Immediately before the confrontation, Mr. Lender approached Mr. Thompson within the doorway to the council chambers and initiated a confrontation within a very small physical space.
In addition, Mr. Lender was reported to have caused a similar confrontation with two other city council members, Sam Heckman and Lois Landgraf, immediately prior to the confrontation with Mr. Thompson. Mr. Heckman reported that Mr. Lender also accused Mr. Heckman of taking away his property rights and that had another bystander not been present to separate Mr. Lender and Mr. Heckman, the incident may have become physical. Ms. Landgraf reported that Mr. Lender called her "scum," "trash," and said something to the effect of "I will spend everyday trying to take you out." The prior confrontations are evidence that Mr. Lender's general attitude and demeanor immediately prior to the incident with Mr. Thompson was aggressive and threatening in nature.
Under those circumstances, Mr. Lender exhibiting an aggressive demeanor, initiating the confrontation within a narrow physical space, and physically gesturing against Mr. Thompson while using wholly inappropriate and threatening language, it was reasonable for Mr. Thompson to believe that Mr. Lender was about [to] use physical force against him.
In response to the perceived threat, Mr. Thompson applied a form of physical control against Mr. Lender and, according to Mr. Thompson, inadvertently struck Mr. Lender in the face with his arm in the process of applying the hold on Mr. Lender. Both Mr. Lender's initial account of the incident and the statement of independent eye witness are consistent with Mr. Thompson's statement that any physical contact to Mr. Lender's face was inadvertent and occurred in the process of applying a defensive physical hold.
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