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.