The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 21, 2013

New suspect charged in September taxi assault

Charges dismissed in January for man arrested after incident

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — Assault charges that were dismissed for a Mankato man in January have now been filed against a 27-year-old Clear Lake man who is accused of seriously injuring a third man during a fight over a taxi nearly a year ago.

Benjamin Joseph Altobelli wasn't mentioned in a criminal complaint that was filed shortly after the Sept. 2 assault near downtown's Cherry Street parking ramp. That complaint accused the Mankato man, 28-year-old Jordan Hansen, of punching Adam Benson so hard that, witnesses reported, Benson fell straight back and hit his head hard on the sidewalk.

When police officers arrived, Hansen and a man identified as Nicholas Greig were fighting. They were told to break it up, but wouldn't, so Greig was shot with a tasing device. Greig later told an officer that fight started as he was pulling Hansen off of Benson.

Benson was on the ground unconscious and bleeding when the officer stopped to break up the fight. Danielle Buzick told an officer she and some friends were waiting for a taxi when Hansen knocked Benson to the ground. She said Benson fell like a "straight board, no bending at all."

Benson's wife, Amanda, told the officer the group she was with was getting in a cab when a man told them he was taking it. She said she was pushed during the altercation, which resulted in Benson confronting the man. The man, who she described as white with brown hair that was cut short, then punched Benson in the face, she said.

Hansen matched that description so he was arrested and brought to jail. The assault charges filed against him were dismissed in January after Altobelli called Hansen's attorney, Gregory Joseph, and told him he was actually the man who punched Benson.

The officer who interviewed the other witnesses contacted Altobelli after he called Joseph. Altobelli told her he, Hansen and a third friend were downtown during the early morning hours of Sept. 2, according to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday. There was an altercation between Hansen and Adam Benson when Altobelli and Amanda Benson stepped between the two. Altobelli said he punched Benson during that altercation, then left because he didn't want to be arrested, the complaint said.

A preliminary doctor's report after the incident said Benson had a broken nose and suffered head trauma.

A request for restitution was filed in Hansen's case by Benson's health insurance provider. It said a total of $23,815 was paid to cover medical bills for injuries Benson received. Those bills included almost $5,000 for Gold Cross Ambulance.

An initial court appearance has not been scheduled for Altobelli, who has been charged with one felony count of third-degree assault and one misdemeanor count of fifth-degree assault. He and Hansen could not be reached for comment Thursday.