Shooter at North Minneapolis park gets probation
A Minneapolis man who faced a mandatory five-year prison term for firing six shots in Folwell Park while children were playing basketball and soccer was sentenced to eight years of probation Monday.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and his prosecutors asked for a longer sentence than the five years in prison August Latimothy Fleming had earned under Minnesota law. Hennepin County District Court Judge William Koch showed the surveillance video on a big screen television in court before he handed down the sentence and said a wonderful autumn evening was shattered by six gunshots, “an all too familiar sound in North Minneapolis.”
There were young children at the end of the court where Fleming, 20, was shooting at another young man. In community impact statements, Judge Koch said the director of the park wrote that people were traumatized and a soccer coach wrote that he had to tell his young players to drop to the ground, while others ran to their parents as the bullets flew.
Koch then announced that he was raising the sentence from 60 months to 90 months, but Fleming would not have to serve that time as long as he committed no other crimes while on probation for eight years. He also would have to serve 365 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse.
“We are deeply disappointed by the sentence and continue to believe that this serious gun violence in a city park merited the mandatory prison sentence,” Freeman said.
Fleming pleaded guilty in February to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and to second-degree assault. According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 3, Fleming was playing in a pick-up basketball game at the Folwell courts when one of the other players became angry with Fleming. The other player, whose identity was unknown to authorities when Fleming was charged and pleaded guilty, grabbed a knife and slashed Fleming’s face, drawing blood.
Fleming retreated and was nearly off the basketball court when a friend approached with a backpack. Fleming reached in the backpack, pulled out a gun, and ran after the man who slashed him, firing repeatedly, according to the complaint and the surveillance video. No one was struck by the bullets.
When he was 17, Fleming was adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court for helping a friend steal a handgun from a sporting goods store. As a result, he was prohibited from ever owning or even handling a gun.
Koch said he was not sentencing Fleming to prison because the primary victim of the shooting was the initial aggressor, having stabbed Fleming, and Fleming had “an imperfect claim of self-defense.”
Paul McCurry Jr has been charged with one count of second-degree assault for stabbing August Fleming on October 3, 2012 in Folwell Park. In retaliation, Fleming fired numerous shots, endangering the lives of children, parents, and coaches who were participating in youth soccer, as well as others at the park.
The individual who carried a backpack, from which Fleming pulled the gun, remains unidentified.