7-foot former basketball player accused in fight
FARGO - A 7-foot, 330-pound West Fargo man accused of fighting with Fargo police at a bar Thursday says he was only trying to help his girlfriend as she was having a diabetic reaction.
Quennon Echols, who formerly played for the F-M Beez minor league professional basketball team, was charged Friday in Cass County District Court with felony simple assault on a peace officer and misdemeanor preventing arrest.
Judge Georgia Dawson set bail at $5,000, or $500 bond, with the condition that Echols consume no alcohol.
Brandi Lang of West Fargo said she and Echols, her boyfriend of 11 years, went into Cactus Jack's Saloon after bowling with her father Wednesday night. Lang said she had two Limon diets and Echols had a drink.
They decided to leave when Lang, a diabetic, started feeling ill. On the way to the door, Lang said she started feeling dizzy and couldn't hear.
"So, I panicked, and I reached for Quennon's shirt, and I grabbed it and I ripped it, and all of a sudden I fell backwards" and hit her head and went unconscious, she said.
Officers were called to the bar at 3402 Interstate Blvd. S. at 12:28 a.m.
Lang said she normally takes insulin at 11 p.m., and Echols started digging in her purse for her insulin pen.
Echols said he was trying to help her up and administer the insulin when the police arrived.
"They didn't even ask me what was going on. They just kept saying 'get back,' " he said.
That's when he said the incident blew up.
"I said, 'Hold on, let me get the insulin.' That's when they grabbed my arms to swing me around and put me on the ground," he said.
Echols said an officer was then scratched. He said he apologized to the officers for the scratch.
"They said I kneed a cop and I punched at a cop," Echols said. "Nothing like that happened. I don't know where they get that information from."
Sgt. Mark Lykken said that according to the police report, officers arrived to find Echols standing over Lang, straddling her with one foot on each side of her.
Lykken said police ordered Echols out of the way so firefighters could assist Lang and tried to physically move him when he refused. After several attempts, Echols became violent and started fighting with police, striking one officer in the face and elbowing another in the head, Lykken said.
Officers tackled Echols to arrest him, and he continued to resist until they threatened to use a Taser on him, Lykken said, citing the report.
Echols said police said nothing about using a Taser until he was handcuffed.
"I wasn't resisting arrest. They had me handcuffed," he said. That's when an officer said, "We're going to taze you. We're going to taze you," Echols said.
Echols told the judge Thursday he did not hit an officer.
Echols said he took a breath test showing his blood-alcohol concentration was .034; the legal limit for driving is .08.
He said officers refused to listen to him.
"My main concern is Brandi. I lost a cousin due to diabetes. That's what freaked me out about her," he said.
"I know what she takes for her day shot and I know what she takes for her night shot," Echols said. "When it comes to that situation, I know what to do, because she taught me to give her that shot, how many units to give her.
"The way the police were doing it, was all wrong," Echols said, adding that he believed his girlfriend was nearly in a coma.
Lang said she was unconsciousness during the alleged scuffle and was taken by ambulance to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo.
She said her father told her an officer pushed Echols, "and Quennon said, 'Don't touch me.' He's like, 'She just needs her shot and her sugar will go down,' and they would not let him do that."
Lykken said there was no mention in the report about insulin, and he couldn't confirm or deny Lang's version of events.
Lang said she's been diabetic since age 5, and Echols, who lives with her, is familiar with her diabetes.
"He knows what to do," she said.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Echols is slated to appear in court next on Jan. 28.
Echols said he's considering talking to an attorney.
"If they're going to accuse me of stuff I didn't do, that angers me," Echols said.
He played for the F-M Beez during the 1999-2000 season, according to Forum archives.
Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt contributed to this story.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528