Misdemeanor charges have been dismissed against four of the five men who were accused of ambushing pedal pubs in downtown Minneapolis last month with water balloons and squirt guns.
No longer charged in the May 23 incidents are Francis W. Bellanger, 26, of Minneapolis; Jason L. Carlton, 42, of Minneapolis; Mark W. Dean, 31, of St. Paul; and Kurtis W. Johnson, 31, of Inver Grove Heights.
Johnson had been charged with fifth-degree assault. The others had faced disorderly conduct charges. The city attorney’s office dismissed the cases Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court, citing a lack of evidence.
“We could not match up the four individual actors with the specific conduct that was witnessed,” city spokesman Matt Lindstrom said. “With that said, [the city attorney’s] office does not approve or condone the kind of conduct that was involved here. But without some direct evidence to show what each individual did, we were unable to proceed with these prosecutions.”
Andrew Irlbeck, the attorney for Carlton, Dean and Johnson, said his clients feel the city attorney “gave them a fair shake.” Irlbeck declined to address whether his clients would pursue a civil case in connection with their arrests.
Still charged with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct is John D. Rock Jr., 24, of Shakopee. He has pleaded not guilty and has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 10.
The case against Rock goes forward, Lindstrom added, because “we have some direct evidence” against him.
Rock’s attorney, Adam Klinnert, said, “I think we’ll be able to settle this case” without having to go to trial. “There is motivation on both sides,” he said.
City Attorney Susan Segal is reviewing a case against a sixth person and “expects to have a charging decision in the next few weeks,” Lindstrom said.
The five who were charged were accused of throwing water balloons and shooting squirt guns at mobile pub passengers during a series of bicycle ride-by attacks in downtown Minneapolis. On the third foray, the targeted pedal pub patrons just happened to be off-duty Burnsville police officers, who chased down the perpetrators and held them until Minneapolis police arrived.
Klinnert called what Rock and the others were accused of a “prank that got out of hand” that drew an “overblown” response from the officers.
The clashes spawned a spirited debate on social media and talk radio in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the country about the very existence of pedal pubs, those slow-moving carts with drinkers who power the vehicles by pedaling along the downtown streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Uptown and northeast neighborhoods of Minneapolis.
Proprietors and customers see them as harmless fun, while detractors lament the mobile party atmosphere and noise.