Video Doesn’t Exactly Exonerate Bison Football Player

beckfight

Earlier today Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick announced that he was moving to dismiss charges of aggravated assault against NDSU linebacker Travis Beck (resisting arrest charges are still pending) citing a video which, according to him, provides reasonable doubt that Beck was defending himself. Now Bison football apologists are feeling Beck has been exonerated.

But looking at the video, which you can see here, I don’t see how the videos are conclusive of anything other than the fact that Beck did, indeed, resist arrest.

One video shows Beck moving away from his adversary several times, but it doesn’t show the hitting. It doesn’t show who hit first. All it really shows is brief glimpses of the two brawlers as they move in and out of what appears to be an alley.

The second video shows what appears to be a verbal confrontation inside, but with no audio we don’t know what was said.

But here are the facts as we do know them:

* Beck and the other guy exchanged blows, unfortunately out of the sight of any camera.

* Beck, an elite athlete, had plenty of opportunity to flee the area and avoid a physical altercation altogether.

* Beck was lightly injured, the other guy was knocked out.

* Beck resisted when officers attempted to take him into custody.

* Beck was represented by one of the most high-profile defense attorneys in the state (I wonder which alumni booster paid for that?).

We can argue about whether or not Mr. Burdick could have gotten a conviction in court (I suspect his reticence has more to do with getting re-elected to his post in the heart of Bison country than the evidence), but shouldn’t the public have been given the benefit of a jury trial? After all, in a criminal proceeding, there are two sides. One is the defendant, the other is the public which has an interest in seeing their law applied.

Given the appearance of special treatment for NDSU football players in the past, this case should have been subjected to the fully scrutiny of the criminal justice process. It wasn’t, and on that point the citizens lose.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

Related posts

  • Bubba

    you should probably drop this Rob, all you have to do is say “I was wrong”.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Except, I wasn’t I’m not.

  • Geoff Bosse

    Geez Rob, you clearly couldn’t attack NDSU on this one so quickly you turn your focus to an elected official and have this grand illusion of a conspiracy theory. Sad Rob, sad.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t think it’s a conspiracy theory. I think it’s an elected official making a political decision.

      And the video doesn’t exonerate Beck from anything. We still have eye witnesses who say he threw the first punch. All we have is some video showing them dancing around, showing he clearly could have left the area and avoided the fight altogether and showing him resisting arrest.

      • Gern Blanston

        Would the circumstances change if Beck was the one knocked out and the other guy had the cut lip?

        • Gern Blanston

          I wonder if that guy would have had all of these videos posted in the media – including the ride in the police car.

  • devilschild

    Yep…this isn’t a Bisongate. I don’t smell a cover-up.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t think there’s a cover-up. The prosecution could have gone either way.

      But that’s my point. It should have been prosecuted, not dismissed by a politician.

      • Bubba

        So you are against the election of ag’s and, by extension, judges.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I am actually. I think we elect far too many people. Make them appointments.

          • sbark

            You mean like N.Dak own version of Obama’s Czars?

        • Bubba

          For whatever reason can’t post below. I agree with you on the appointment issue. FYI, Burdick wouldn’t be hurt in any way by prosecuting this thing.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I think you underestimate the petty vindictiveness of Bison football fans.

          • borborygmi45

            true but no match to the petty vindictiveness of certain blog moderators

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Says the guy allowed to comment here freely.

      • zdavid53

        The prosecuter job is not to be political but rather to determine if there is a good case. If there is not a good case, only a political hack would continue to prosecute the case.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Or a political would use an inconclusive video to wriggle out of prosecuting a local sports star.

          • Justin Blackburn

            Shocking revelation. The whole world is out to let lawless celebrities and athletes get away with things the rest of us don’t. Oh, and athletes and celebs get the BEST Lawyers too.

        • sbark

          For sure……….no way can he be innocent until proven guilty….This is mob rule….everyone vote on Facebook—and that is the law.

      • Geoff Bosse

        Rob, have you had access to all of the police interviews? I’m assuming not, so how the hell can you say the prosecution should’ve done anything different?

  • borborygmi45

    hate can be all consuming Rob and IMO you have went past appetizer to entree

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      See, that’s the problem. It doesn’t have anything to do with hate.

      It has everything to do with a lot of football fans wanting to give one of their star players a pass.

      • borborygmi45

        you are wrong, if he did wrong have the trial but to insinuate Burdick has been bought off ……wow. If the video doesn’t exonerate him in your opinion it obviously doesn’t convict him either.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I never said he was bought off.

          I said he made a political decision.

          Don’t put words in my mouth.

      • Chris

        I agree that these videos do not exonerate Travis Beck and he certainly sounds like a drunken idiot in the back of the police car. With that being said, if he can be charged with a felony, so should the other two guys. I see as much or more evidence in the videos of the other two guys instigating the altercation.

        Also if underage drinking and getting in a fight when you are in college should get you kicked out of college, there would be very few students left.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I agree. I say more charges, not less.

          • Chris

            I was just looking for consistency, not arguing that there should be more charges. I’m not condoning what he did, and I think he should be punished, but I don’t think he should be permanently kicked off the team or out of school for getting in a fight. I don’t see this as nearly as bad as the best buy theft or the petition forging.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I think beating a guy unconscious is at least as bad, but then the other guy clearly isn’t innocent either.

            This, and the previous underage drinking/resisting arrest charges, should absolutely have Beck off the team. We tolerate, we just tell these pampered athletes once again that they’re entitled to a different sort of justice.

          • Justin Blackburn

            He is getting the exact same justice any 21 year old would get. Sketchy details about a bar fight. If prosecutors took every bar fight to trial for felony charges, they couldn’t prosecute REAL CRIMES that endanger the public.

  • borborygmi45

    Want to know what happened find the young woman in the video. It looks like she tried to head this off a couple of time. As far as Beck it looked like he was walking away and they followed him.

    • Justin Blackburn

      I wonder who she went home with? She was the belle of the ball and probably had to booty call her ex-boyfriend. She is the REAL VICTIM here.

  • joel

    and now the warm showers together begin

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Huh?

  • awfulorv

    I’d say they’re both fortunate the altercation didn’t happen in Chicago, Atlanta, or Oakland, with a person whose culture has taught them to never allow yourself to be disrespected without visiting mayhem, usually with a sharp weapon, or a gun, on your antagonist…

  • opinionated

    This guy is going to catch more hell from his mother when she watched this video than any cop could ever hand out… The potty mouth deos not do him justice in the back of a squad car.

    • devilschild

      The swearing I can live with. I don’t like it but I do hear it from time to time. It’s the excessive amount of alcohol that would bother me. He’s so drunk its scary. But he’s not the only one. At the beginning of the video a guy stumbles and falls to the ground.

      • borborygmi45

        intervention?

    • Lianne

      don’t be so sure. There are moms who believe their babies can do no wrong. :-)

  • Mike Peterson

    Fargo’s justice system allowing NDSU football players to constantly flaunt the law is an embarrassment to North Dakota. How do you get excited about criminals winning the national championship? You don’t.

  • Gern Blanston

    I this was the back-up line backer for the Minot State Beavers, but all else was the same, what would be the likely consequences for that player? (I use MSU as an example not because it’s Rob’s home town, but because it is a smaller school without a national championship either recently or plausibly within the next season) Or maybe we change the Bison Football player to ‘noted exercise enthusiast’. Does is change anything?

    • Justin Blackburn

      I know it changes things for Rob. I get that it is a pattern of the school not taking appropriate action with their student athletes. Fair enough. But Rob thinks that because of school administrators being bad people, we should destroy this kid’s life since the school won’t take appropriate action. Noted exercise enthusiasts don’t have SAB posting about their bar fights.

  • Yukon

    I think it’s interesting that no one has brought up the fact that the other participant in the mutual fight was 6’6 and 240 + and Beck is 6’0 and 215.
    Rob, it would be fiscally irresponsible for our elected officials prosecuting cases they can’t win.
    Why do you and Chris Berg have such hatred toward NDSU? As a UND grad and someone who agrees with both of you 80% of the time, I feel I have an unbiased view. You don’t just question things associated with NDSU but you attack with a disregard for the truth. You two are like the North Dakota MSNBC when it comes to NDSU.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Oh come off it. Beck is an elite athlete, and could have left the fight behind at any time.

      Instead, per this video, he himself invited the guy outside to fight and then knocked him out.
      http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/video-two-resisting-arrest-charges-im-done-with-football/
      He also admits to resisting arrest.

      Maybe it’s not that I have it out for NDSU. Maybe it’s that NDSU is worthy of every bit of the criticism.

      • PK

        Why don’t you come off it? Stop twisting the known facts. He said he was pushed by the other guy in the restaurant because he was hitting on the same girl, then brought it outside. It was a stupid fight over a girl. Sure, he probably deserves disorderly conduct, which he still may get, the investigation and trial isn’t over like you seem to be implying. But you want this kid to have his life destroyed and sit in prison with a FELONY aggravated assault charge, and then get his guns taken over it. Over a stupid bar fight? Who didn’t have a bit of a wild streak when they were a young adult? From the evidence, he doesn’t deserve to be hit with a felony, sit in prison and get his guns taken.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Actually, the county has dropped all charges and has said there wont’ be any more charges.

          The only charge still pending is the city’s resisting arrest. So yeah, it is over.

          But you want this kid to have his life destroyed and sit in prison with a FELONY aggravated assault charge, and then get his guns taken over it. Over a stupid bar fight?

          He’s a guy who has resisted arrest multiple times (previous charges dropped), he’s got a history with alcohol abuse and a beat a guy unconscious.

          Even if the other guy was a willing participant in the fight, that’s wrong. Actions have consequences.

          • Justin Blackburn

            Couple ways we can go about this. If the University is worth a damn (and I read SAB enough to tend to agree with you Rob that it is not), they would have a substance abuse program built into the university. Habitual offenders and anyone convicted of a significant crime, regardless of whether athletes or not, can be given conduct conditions that if they do not comply, they are not allowed to enroll. I don’t want my kids going to college with habitual criminals, and I don’t want my community being filled with them AND GLORIFYING THEM either.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          And I never said I was married to felony assault. What I don’t like is that he’s getting away with nothing for the fight.

      • Dakotacyr

        and the other guy could have stayed in the bar.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          And Beck could have left the scene any time.

          Charge them both.

          • Justin Blackburn

            Sure, charge them both with disorderly conduct. A misdemeanor that probably includes 10-20 hours of community service that Beck will complete by coaching kids at a youth camp.

      • Justin Blackburn

        NDSU is worthy of the criticism, but this is not about that. This is about a felony charge against a 21 year old kid. You are losing sight of who your enemy is.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I don’t have any enemies in this.

          And this is absolutely part of the problem at NDSU and other universities. This is the second time Beck has been charged with resisting arrest. The players guilty of petition fraud were let off with a light touch too.

          Some of those players aren’t showing up for their community service, and here Beck is in trouble again.

          I wonder what gives them the idea that they’re above the law?

        • ec99

          “21 year-old kid” is an oxymoron.

          • devilschild

            As I’ve said before young adults want to be treated as kids when they get into trouble because the punishment is less severe.

      • ec99

        I’m not sure anyone playing for the NDSU football team is “an elite athlete,” unless that means he’s immune to the consequences of his actions.

        • two_amber_lamps

          Sorta like the definition of elite bureaucrat (ie politician).

  • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

    Hard to say it is self defense, though, when you admit to inviting the guy outside to fight.

    • HG

      A decorated Marine once offered this advice: If a guy invites you outside to beat on you, make sure he doesn’t make it out the door.

    • Justin Blackburn

      Inviting someone outside to have a “discussion” is just a verbal altercation until someone throws a punch. I guess it is also hard to claim self defense when you follow a black teenager in a darkened area because he looks suspicious. I believe self defense starts right around the time someone punches you. Given that the details of who threw the first punch are in dispute, I give odds that are roughly 50-50 that either did it. So Rob, do you have a “reasonable doubt” that this kid might not have thrown the first punch?

  • Justin Blackburn

    “but shouldn’t the public have been given the benefit of a jury trial? After all, in a criminal proceeding, there are two sides”

    –Rob, that you would write this indicates how wrongheaded you are about this. The “PUBLIC” does not have jury trials to get both sides of the story. The PUBLIC does not get the benefit of a jury trial, THE ACCUSED has the right to a jury trial. And in a jury trial, you are correct, there are two sides–THE ACCUSED versus THE STATE. This young man could have his career destroyed because of a he said, he said bar fight where the evidence is sketchy at best. Prosecutors have almost unlimited funds for POLITICAL prosecutions as they are doing with Trayvon Martin in Florida. They can spend THE STATE’S MONEY while the Accused has to spend his own money. How about this–YOU want to turn this kid into a 21 year old felon, make it almost impossible for him to get a good job, have him lose his scholarship, and see him in JAIL because he and another man dared to have an altercation outside a bar and he was an elite athlete and didn’t
    run when a man wanted to step outside with him.

    Right now, you have a conspiracy that some booster is paying the bill for a good defense attorney. That some prosecutor is somehow an NDSU alum or scared or doesn’t want to hurt the National Champs. Whatever your issue is with NDSU, and the petition fraud stuff is a REAL ISSUE, destroying this kid’s life, bankrupting his family (assuming said booster won’t fund an ENTIRE CRIMINAL TRIAL that could cost $20k or more), and adding in that the odds are that a JURY would acquit him anyway because the evidence is not BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT and prosecutors know that his defense can show REASONABLE DOUBT is just insane. I understand scandal, but there were no weapons. It isn’t like the University condones this, they have suspended him pending the outcome of the case which is all they can do.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Justin, you should bone up a bit at the issue at hand before jumping in.
      Beck is on video having said he invited the other guy outside to fight. He then beat that guy unconscious, and is currently facing nothing other than resisting arrest charges.

      Sorry, but the trial is for the accused and the public. We have a right to see our laws carried out, and it’s WRONGHEADED (to use your term) to think otherwise.

      I’m not married to the idea of a felony (you thinking this would cost $20k is laughable), but neither of the idiots should get off scott-free.

      And it’s hardly a conspiracy theory to suspect that an elected official doesn’t want to take on the fans of the popular local football team.

      • Justin Blackburn

        We were at the Arizona Cardinals versus the Green Bay Packers game in 2009 playoffs. After the game, Cards won in OT, four of my friends that were packers fans were really drunk as were plenty of cards fans. Kid about 6’4″ 240 started picking on my friend who was a 5’4 150 lb 55 year old man because he was wearing a packers jersey. Kid pushed the old man and the old man hit him upside the head with a beer bottle and cut the kid’s ear. Prosecutor charged the 55 year old man with Aggravated Assault, a Felony 6.

        Average lawyer charges $200 per hour. Rough numbers. You have arraignment, many hours of plea bargaining up front trying to get a workable deal, discovery, depositions, more plea bargaining, then a trial. My friend had to empty his 401k account and it cost him $20k. Prosecutor made the deal right before trial. Reduced from Felony Assault to Misdemeanor Assault.

        Enlighten me on legal fees. Since we are laughing about what it costs. Because as near as I can tell, 20k is roughly 100 hours of work. Lawyers love stuff like this because if it is a political trial, the politicians will spend until you run out of YOUR MONEY because their time and money don’t cost them anything.

        • Justin Blackburn

          BTW, we watched it. The kid pushed the old man. I am not saying bringing a beer bottle to a fist fight is a good thing, but the kid was itching for a fight and picked the little guy. A felony charge would have cost my friend his job and his career because he was required to be certified by the state for his profession.

          Plead the kid to resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Offer to drop resisting if he pleads to disorderly. Spend 2-3 hours of lawyer time drawing up a plea deal, make him undergo alcohol abuse counselling at his expense, make he do some community service, make him pay a fine, and make him pay the medical bills of the other guy.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          There was no way this was ever going to stay at felony assault, and it probably shouldn’t have. It would have been plead down, and no way that would have cost $20k.

          • devilschild

            Let’s be fair….JB didn’t “invite” the other man outside. He said “let’s take this outside” which is the right thing to do during an altercation. If you have ever worked in a bar or a restaurant that serves alcohol you would know this.

          • Justin Blackburn

            So what you are so incensed about is that he is charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest instead of an additional misdemeanor assault charge? What do two misdemeanors get you that one doesn’t? If they are going to plead him, he isn’t going to plead to assault, but probably will plead to resisting. So what you want is the kid convicted of a misdemeanor charge, specifically assault, or else the entire system is corrupt…

  • Justin Blackburn

    Rob, this is the crap you need to worry about. Be thankful it is just a bar fight. A high school down here has several boosters that own and run a huge condo complex and they rented a condo (for free) to 6 black students from the hood because they are the umpteen time state champs. University of Arizona just hired their coach to be a college coach and their star receiver from two years ago went to Notre Dame last year (before he washed out for undisclosed reasons.) QB went on a full ride to Texas. One of the top three programs in AZ… This 16 year old who was living with six athletes in a booster paid condo raped several women in the area. http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/Teen-rape-suspect-sparks-HS-sports-investigation-177415691.html

    • Justin Blackburn

      You know what the AIA (governing body for AZ HS Athletics) did about it? Rampant illegal recruiting and RAPE by a player… Wait for it… wait for it… NOT A DAMNED THING. Because Scottsdale Chaparal is home to the wealthiest elite in Phoenix. And their boosters are the definition of the elite lawyers and doctors in PHX.

Top