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Dave Roepke, Published September 01 2010

Ex-trooper Polomny says he never hit, kicked wife

A former North Dakota state trooper accused of pushing, hitting and kicking his wife had an incredulous reaction when arrested in June.

While conceding that he had pushed his wife as he tried to leave their house in Moorhead, the fallout from yet another fight about his addiction to Mafia Wars – an online Facebook game he played eight to 10 hours a day – Michael Polomny strongly denied he hit or kicked her.

“I’m losing my mind, if that’s the case,” he said.

A tape of the interrogation was played Tuesday in Clay County District Court, where Polomny is on trial for misdemeanor domestic assault and three counts of child endangerment, a gross misdemeanor.

Polomny’s wife told police on June 23 that her husband, at the time a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper, punched her in the back and kicked her in the leg as she held their infant son.

In testimony on Tuesday, she couched her allegation.

Asked about being hit and kicked by her husband, Naomi Polomny said it was her perception of what happened at the time.

“I don’t know, but that’s what I thought,” she said.

Polomny, who has asked the court to lift an order barring her husband from contacting her or their six children, said she doesn’t believe her husband tried to intentionally harm her and that she didn’t want to get him in trouble.

A tape of the call the wife made to police dispatchers was played Tuesday, as the six-person jury heard her describe her husband becoming enraged when he was confronted about what he was doing online.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with my husband,” she told a dispatcher.

Naomi Polomny said she hasn’t been pressured to change her story by any law enforcement officers.

Moorhead police Sgt. Steve Larsen testified that in his experience, domestic assault victims often recant. He said they’re motivated by various reasons, such as keeping the family together or a need for the income of the assailant.

Assistant Clay County Attorney Pamela Harris showed the jury photos of scrapes and bruises the wife had sustained on her back, leg and forearm.

“What happened in that basement was domestic assault,” Harris said in her opening statement.

Defense attorney Mark Friese argued in his opening that the case was rife with reasonable doubt, noting both children who saw the fight told police their father didn’t strike or kick their mother.

During a cuss-filled argument that caused him to lose his voice, the 41-year-old Polomny called his oldest daughter and told her to come home so he did not kill her mother, his wife said in her initial call to a police dispatcher. His wife said Tuesday she did not think he’d kill her.

Prior to calling dispatchers, Naomi Polomny first contacted a Highway Patrol sergeant and a Moorhead police lieutenant who is a friend of the family. Both off-duty officers said if she didn’t call 911, they would.

“I felt like I had kind of run out of options,” she said.

The argument stemmed from the time Polomny had been spending playing Mafia Wars. Naomi Polomny said her husband played the game on three computers at once, using as many as seven accounts on Facebook. He played eight to 10 hours a day, logging on with his laptop to play while on duty, she said.

He was also in an online relationship with a woman who played Mafia Wars, she said. She’d questioned him about the woman right before he became upset and stormed out of the house.

The trial is scheduled to continue today. Friese said Polomny plans to testify.

Since his arrest, Polomny has been fired from the Highway Patrol, but he is appealing his termination.

Before opening statements, Judge Michael Kirk agreed to grant immunity to Naomi Polomny in exchange for her testifying.

Had Polomny’s wife not been given immunity, she would have been urged to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights because police reports allege she hit her husband during the argument, said Cash Aaland, her attorney.

Harris said nothing the wife may say would prompt charges but added she did expect her to tell the truth.

“I’ve never in 10 years charged a victim who came in to testify at trial,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535