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Man pleads not guilty to assaulting Willmar officers, jury trial set for March

WILLMAR — Cody Lee Friese, 23, of Willmar, pleaded not guilty Friday to four felony charges of assault and obstructing the legal process, plus a gross misdemeanor assault count, for allegedly assaulting three Willmar Police Department officers in December.

In the hearing before District Judge Donald Spilseth, a trial management conference for Friese was set for March 24 with a jury trial scheduled for March 26. Friese remains in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Friese faces a third-degree assault charge for causing Sgt. Mike Markkanen to suffer a concussion from blows to the head, two felony counts of fourth-degree assault of a peace officer for assaulting Markkanen and Officer Sam Neubauer and a gross misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault for assaulting Officer Tony LaPatka. The incident was Dec. 19 at a Willmar residence.

According to previous information from Police Chief David Wyffels, both Markkanen and Neubauer were treated and released from Rice Memorial Hospital and LaPatka did not seek medical attention.

According to the complaint, the Police Department was advised by the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office that there was an arrest warrant for Friese for violating a no-contact order. Neubauer went to a relative’s home and found Friese, who cursed the officer, stood up and clenched his fists.

Both Neubauer and Markkanen attempted to use their stun guns on Friese, who fought with the officers and hit Markkanen in the back and the head, the complaint states. The officers called for assistance and Friese was finally restrained after the other officers arrived. The complaint says that Laptka was head-butted by Friese when Friese lunged at him after he had been handcuffed.

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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