District Attorney Analysis of Why Criminal Charges Not Filed in Dennis Munson Jr. Death

John Diedrich, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel continues to ask questions following the death of amateur kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr.

The potential legal consequences from this tragedy are ongoing with the police apparently “investigating why video of kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr.’s fatal fight — submitted to detectives as evidence — was missing 32 seconds at a crucial moment“.

Additionally, Munson’s family apparently is planning to file civil complaints against individuals involved in the oversight of the bout.

In his ongoing reporting Diedrich obtained a copy of a letter from Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams who conducted a legal analysis into the death and declined to file criminal charges finding that the requirements for proving criminal recklessness likely could not be made out in the circumstances particularly given the issue of consent in the realm of combat sports.

Williams full letter can be found here – ADA Letter Declining To File Charges in Dennis Munson Jr Death

His legal analysis is as follows:

Legal Analysis

In examining the actions of those in control of the fight, as to their conformity to the law, it is difficult to find criminal violations at this time. From the video,it seems apparent from the middle of the second round to the end of the fightthat Mr. Munson was in some distress. He was wobbly on his feet, he occasionally staggered, and between the second and third round his head dropped several times and had to be lifted by his corner man. In the third round he appeared to have little aggression and it seemed his opponent eased off, recognizing the lack of aggression by Mr. Munson.

The act of being reckless in the State of Wisconsin is defined in Wisconsin Statute 939.24(1). The actor must create an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm to another human being and must be aware of that risk. These elements of recklessness are found in both 941.30(1), First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety and 940.30(2), Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety.

There is also the matter of consent and assumption of risk when one enters into a combat fight. You certainly consent to be hit and possibly knocked out. The question arises as to what is too far, and if the standard of criminal recklessness overcomes assumption of risk. In looking at the video tape of the fight most people would agree the fight should have been stopped in the third round, and perhaps at the end of the second round. Some people including the referee in the fight, and Mr. Munson’s trainer/manager believed that the fight should continue, though it was apparent that Mr. Munson had been impaired by receiving blows during the fight. Despite receiving the numerous blows, Mr. Munson attempted to keep fighting, though rather ineffectively.

Looking at the totality of the whole fight, and what happened directly afterward, the State believes at this time it cannot prove that anyone involved in the fight created an unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to Mr. Munson, and were aware of that risk considering that the context of the injuries were inflicted during a consensual kick boxing match.

Finally, it appears the opponent of Mr. Munson actually became less aggressive during the third round of the fight possibly realizing Mr. Munson was hurt.

 

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