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ASU player faces criminal battery charges after hitting officer

In Arkansas battery of a law enforcement officer is a felony. The crime involves  knowingly and without legal justification causing physical injury to a person that he or she knows to be a law enforcement officer. An Arkansas State University student was recently charged with that kind of battery and related crimes after reportedly punching a police officer in the throat.

The incident occurred after Jonesboro police were called to the St. Bernard's Behavioral Health facility. When they arrived, the suspect allegedly became combative with them as they were trying to calm him and determine what was the matter. He allegedly threatened to "break their necks" if they tried to stop him from leaving the building.

One officer pulled out a Taser and ordered the man to follow commands. At that point the suspect purportedly charged the officer and punched him in the throat, breaking the Hyoid bone in his neck. The man ran from the building but was later subdued after being hit with the Taser by another officer. There is no information at this time whether the suspect was receiving services at the facility or whether he was there for a different reason.

The officer was hospitalized but was recently released. The suspect is a regular player on the Arkansas State basketball team. The coach issued a statement that the reported behavior is totally inconsistent with his prior exemplary behavior, and that he was an "excellent student" and "positive representative" of the university. The coach hoped that the reasons for the behavior would be discovered and that the young man would receive the proper discipline or care that he needs.

Prior to his scheduled June 29 appearance in an Arkansas state court on the battery and other charges, the defendant will undergo a mental health examination. There is no current information indicating the reasons for the alleged behavior. Ideally, he will have defense counsel to investigate and prepare a proper presentation for the upcoming hearing. Under the circumstances, counsel will likely try to get an alternative sentencing resolution that will emphasize health care, counseling and treatment rather than criminal incarceration.

Source: wmcactionnews5.com, "Officer released from hospital after being punched by A-State at", May 29, 2015

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