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Man pleads to strangulation, assault of Willmar peace officers

Cruz was sentenced Monday to 84 days in jail, five years of probation and a $250 fine.

WILLMAR -- Nicholas Martin Cruz, 20, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felony charges of domestic assault by strangulation, terroristic threats and fourth-degree assault of a peace officer for an Oct. 27 incident in which he strangled a young woman and then assaulted and threatened several Willmar Police Department officers.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, two felony charges and a gross misdemeanor for assault of a peace officer will be dismissed, as will misdemeanor charges for driving after suspension and domestic assault. He will be sentenced Jan. 31.

Cruz also pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of un-derage dr-inking and driving.

The criminal complaint was amended on Nov. 15, to include the terroristic threats charge for threatening sexual assault toward the wife and children of one of the officers. Cruz was originally charged with three felony counts of domestic assault and assault of a peace officer.

The charges were filed after Willmar police were called around 9:30 p.m. Oct. 27 to a residence on the southeast side to respond to a domestic incident. A woman there reported that Cruz, with whom she has had a long-term relationship and a child, had hit her in the face repeatedly with his closed fist and choked her. The assault had happened when the woman asked Cruz's friends to leave their residence.

The woman also said that Cruz hit her while she was holding the infant and had told her to put the child down and "you'll really get it." The woman had been taken from the scene to another residence.

An officer located Cruz driving a vehicle nearby and stopped the vehicle. The officer noted the smell of alcohol on him. Cruz refused to cooperate with officers. He finally did cooperate enough to be handcuffed only after being told that a stun gun would be used against him.

The court records say that Cruz attempted to kick out the windows of a squad car, that he spit at three officers and that he attempted to bite another officer as the officer was attempting to restrain Cruz so that the other officers could put him in foot restraints. The restraints were to prevent him from kicking out the car windows. He also spit on the officer who was transporting him to jail and on the computer and other equipment in the squad car.

While he was being searched and restrained, Cruz cursed the officers, threatened to sexually assault the wives and children of the officers and said he was going to find out where the officers lived. He continued to say vulgar things to the officers and the jail staff as he was booked into the county jail.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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