NB man pleads not guilty to assault, flee an officer charges

A North Branch man has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged assault and flee attempt prior to his arrest in December.

James Lonsdale Artig III, 29, of North Branch, entered his plea at a pretrial omnibus hearing Jan. 15 in Chisago County District Court. He was originally charged with felony fourth-degree assault, gross misdemeanor of providing false information to police, and fleeing an officer by foot, a misdemeanor, following the Dec. 15 incident.

He remains in custody with bail set at $60,000 unconditional or $30,000 with conditions. A jury trial was set for 9 a.m. March 3.

According to the complaint:

On Sunday night, Dec. 15, North Branch Police officer Rebecca Lawrence responded to a suspicious male report at a local gas and convenience station. Though the man had since left the business, store employees provided a description that resembled a similar report the Police Department received earlier that morning.

In a search of the area, Lawrence drove her squad west on Old Main Street, where she located the individual at issue walking. He was later identified as Artig.

The officer asked if he was all right, advised him that there had been a complaint and said people expressed concern for his well-being due to the cold weather and potential for exposure. The man noted he was fine and was “just walking around” because he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend.

When Lawrence asked for his name, he responded with a different first and middle name from his own. Because Artig used his actual last name, however, the officer believed he was in fact James Lonsdale Artig III and was aware of an active warrant for his arrest.

Artig spoke briefly to the officer but then took off running north on 14th toward the cemetery. Lawrence called for assistance and activated the squad’s lights and siren, but he continued to run and elude the officer.

Lawrence then pursued Artig on foot and caught up to him. He threw his backpack at her. The officer forced him to the ground where she struggled to detain him while he continued to fight with her.

A good Samaritan and a state trooper eventually assisted Lawrence, and Artig was placed into custody. A search of his backpack revealed items including various kinds of beer.

En route to the county jail in Lawrence’s squad, the officer stopped at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, where Artig was taken for medical treatment and turned out to be fine. The officer, however, was treated for a sprained ankle and frostbite to three fingers.

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