Prosecutor declines charges in fight that left NDSU student badly hurt
FARGO — A prosecutor has decided not to charge a man reportedly involved in a fight that left Isaiah Smith, a junior at North Dakota State University, with serious facial injuries, because "accounts from the scene tend to show Smith was the aggressor," according to a prosecutor's report.
Smith's family disagrees with the prosecutor's decision and believes there are discrepancies with Smith's injuries and what the other man in the fight and witnesses say happened during the altercation on Saturday, Sept. 2.
The other man in the fight, Redir Amedy, appears to have been trying to stop Smith from advancing aggressively on Amedy's friend, whom an intoxicated Smith believed had beaten a woman, according to the report from Cass County prosecutor Reid Brady.
The Sept. 2 fight happened early in the morning at a park behind the T Lofts apartments off the NDSU campus.
The prosecutor's report concluded it wouldn't be possible to prove that Amedy was guilty of assault because state law allows force to be used in defense of another.
However, Smith's mother, Jennifer Droher, of Brainerd, Minn., said the law doesn't allow for excessive force. Droher said she is collecting statements from dentists and physicians to proceed with further legal action to hopefully re-open the case.
Smith's injuries were reportedly severe. "His teeth are sheared off, and the two dentists that are going to be repairing his mouth said there's no way just having your chin slammed to the ground would cause that. It would have to be in excessive force," said Smith's sister, Casey Droher, 26, of St. Paul.
Police interviews with several people involved, including Smith's friends, indicate Smith was injured after Amedy released him from a chokehold and he fell on his face. "No punches, kicks, or strikes of any kind were attempted," the report said.
Smith's sister said her brother, a nursing student at NDSU, has resumed online studies and is recovering in Fargo. She said his jaw will be wired shut for another six to eight weeks before dentists and surgeons can repair the damage.
According to the prosecutor's report, at least six people were present during the struggle between Amedy and Smith, including two of Amedy's friends and two of Smith's friends, who were walking several hundred yards behind him. Everyone involved but Amedy appeared to have been drinking, the report said.
According to Smith, he was walking ahead of his friends when he saw a man he thought had beaten a woman friend.
"Although Smith did not know what the domestic assault suspect looked like, he approached the males and confronted the one he thought was the suspect, asking him why he beats up women," the report said he told a police officer. Smith concluded they must have done it because "they got so sensitive when he called them out," the report said.
Someone then snuck up behind Smith and put him in a chokehold, causing him to pass out. Smith's mother and sister argue his right to walk away was taken from him when he was grabbed from behind.
The report said Smith's blood-alcohol level at that time was .192 percent, more than double the limit for driving.
Both of Smith's friends said they could see Smith had gotten into an argument with a group of four to five men and that one of the men put Smith in a chokehold. One friend said he told the man to let Smith go. "The guy then threw Smith down and ran," the friend said.
Smith's other friend said if the man had just let Smith go, he would've just fallen, but it seemed like the man gave Smith added speed with his push.
Amedy said Smith exchanged words with Amedy's friend as they walked by. Amedy tried to get between them, but, as Amedy's friend tried to walk away, Smith followed him, causing Amedy to grab Smith.
"Because Smith was wiggling, Amedy used force to contain Smith," the report said. When Smith's friend demanded he be let go, "Amedy threw Smith down — motioning like a push with his chest because his arms were around Smith. Smith fell face first."
Brady, the prosecutor, concludes that a defense attorney would dismantle the case by pointing to discrepancies in Smith's story — he initially said he was jumped by two men — and his and his friends' intoxication.
Smith's mother and sister said Smith suffered a concussion from the altercation and he initially wasn't remembering very much.