Dave Olson, Published September 22 2010
Jury: West Fargo man who hit police car during snowstorm not guiltyA West Fargo man whose vehicle rear-ended a Fargo police SUV during a snowstorm was found not guilty of reckless driving by a Cass County District Court jury Tuesday.
Jacob Daniel Rheault was 26 when the incident occurred Jan. 25.
Authorities said after the crash that Fargo police Officer Grant Benjamin stopped in the 5100 block of 40th Avenue South to assist a woman whose car became stuck in the snow during a storm that created white-out conditions in the area.
The police SUV, positioned to protect the woman and some friends who were helping her, was hit from behind by a vehicle Rheault was driving.
Benjamin was in the truck when it was struck, but was not seriously injured, police said at the time.
At the start of Rheault’s trial on Tuesday, his attorney, Robert Hoy, told the jury no one disputed that Rheault’s vehicle struck the police SUV “parked in the middle” of the road lane Rheault was driving in.
But, Hoy said, “there’s enough blame to go around here,” and he asked jurors to consider what would have happened if Rheault had parked a vehicle where the police officer parked.
“Who do you think would have gotten a ticket for parking where he shouldn’t?” Hoy said.
Fargo City Prosecutor Scott Diamond kept his opening arguments short.
He said the case was about driving in North Dakota in the winter and someone who wouldn’t “drive slow enough to be safe.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555