Seated in court in a blue jumpsuit, wearing leg shackles and handcuffs, Minot State University football player Jesse Devon Ili, 21, West Covina, Calif., told Northwest District Judge Richard Hagar that he had "never done crime, never been arrested and it was never my intention."
Ili, also known as Jesse Tauiliili, made his initial court appearance at the Ward County Courthouse in Minot Tuesday afternoon on charges of attempted murder, preventing arrest, assault on a police officer, refusal to halt, possession of marijuana and ingestion of a controlled substance. The senior linebacker transferred to MSU from Fresno State University in California and was practicing with the football team prior to his arrest.
Ili was initially scheduled to appear via interactive video but requested to make a personal appearance before Hagar, who granted the request. Several minutes later Ili shuffled from the jail to the courtroom accompanied by four deputies.
Jessie Lang, Fargo, was the attorney representing Ili. Lang was not present but was connected to the courtroom by telephone. "My client fully intends to respond to these charges," said Lang.
The most prominent charge against Ili, attempted murder, a Class A felony, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, a fine of $20,000 or both. The charge stems from an incident Friday night when police responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle and possible narcotics use in the 1300 block of Eighth Street Northwest. Two police officers, Brandon Schmidt and Erik Laudenschlager, were transported to Trinity Hospital as the result of an altercation involving Ili during the traffic stop.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed with the court, "Ili was one of six people in a GMC Yukon that was stopped by the officers who noted a strong smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Laudenschlager noticed Ili, who was seated in the back seat, began moving and acting nervous."
Laudenschlager asked Ili to exit the vehicle. Ili was initially compliant but refused to keep his hands behind his back. After one hand was handcuffed Ili pushed an officer and began to run. A taser used to subdue Ili proved ineffective when the probes became dislodged. Schmidt was attempting to handcuff Ili. Laudenschlager, who was now pursuing another suspect who was fleeing the scene, gave up the chase after hearing Schmidt call for help.
A second taser was used on Ili, who continued to fight with Laudenschlager. It was when Laudenschlager was falling backwards that he activated his taser a second time. At that point the suspect was disabled enough to be handcuffed.
According to the affidavit, "Schmidt was overpowered by the suspect. The suspect was holding Officer Schmidt by the head and repeatedly slamming his head into a retaining wall post. Officer Laudenschlager observed that Officer Schmidt's body appeared to be limp and unconscious."
During Tuesday's court appearance, Ward County State's Attorney Rozanna Larson recommended bond be set at $250,000 cash. Lang countered that the amount was "out of reach, obviously," asking that it be reduced to $20,000.
"This isn't a plot and my client is not a danger to the public," said Lang. "He is a student pursuing a degree in mathematics."
"Anybody who attacks police officers, almost kills one, is a danger to society. This was an attack on two officers," countered Larson.
Hagar set bond at $200,000. He also scheduled Ili for a preliminary hearing Oct. 11 and a pre-trial conference Dec. 18. Ili was ordered to submit to a DNA sample, consume no alcohol and make no contact with the officers involved in the arrest.
Four other Minot State football players were arrested last Friday and charged with possession of marijuana and ingestion of a controlled substance. Two of them appeared via interactive video before Hagar Tuesday.
Grant J. Jansen, 18, Roseville, Calif., entered a guilty plea. He was assessed $525 in costs and ordered to complete alcohol and drug evaluation.
Thomas D. Boles-Armstrong, 19, Omaha, Neb., also entered a guilty plea, telling Hagar, "I'm a college student on the football team. This will never happen again."
Two other MSU players, Kwajo S. Bonsu, 22, Chino Hill, Calif., and Leon L. LaDeaux, 21, Port Orchard, Wash., posted bond prior to Tuesday's hearings. The sixth person who fled the scene was still being sought late Tuesday.