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Friday, June 16, 2017 11:09 am

Wild courthouse struggle in Logan County

Defense attorney helps subdue defendant

James Grimaldi, a Lincoln lawyer, got a continuance the hard way on Wednesday when he helped subdue a defendant in the Logan County courthouse who ended up in an ambulance

A courthouse security officer was also injured and taken away by ambulance after a struggle with the man, who tried bolting from courthouse as a judge was preparing to send him to jail.

Grimaldi, a former Sangamon County assistant state’s attorney, said that the man was acting oddly enough that Logan County Associate Judge William Workman ordered him to immediately take a drug test at the probation office in the courthouse. The results came back positive for methamphetamine and benzodiazepines, Grimaldi said.

“The judge didn’t like that very much,” Grimaldi said. “He starts holding the guy in criminal contempt (of court) for showing up high.”

Rather than be arrested and jailed, the defendant bolted for a door used by attorneys to enter and exit the courtroom.

“He tried, basically, to jump through it,” Grimaldi said. “That door wasn’t going anywhere. In that door was a glass window, an old-school glass window from 1903 or so. His head went right through it. The glass just exploded, and he immediately started bleeding.”

A bailiff grabbed the defendant, Grimaldi said, and the two fell down together, with the bailiff striking the back of his head on the judicial bench or some other wooden object.

“They had to take him to the hospital,” Grimaldi said.

The bailiff remained on the floor, but the defendant sprang up and began running toward the jury box, Grimaldi said. Two courthouse security officers grabbed the man near the jury box and began grappling with him, attempting to bring him under control.

“He just won’t go down,” recalled Grimaldi, who was standing near the jury box. “As they start struggling with him, I take my jacket off -- in case he’s coming in my direction, I didn’t want him to ruin my jacket. This guy is bleeding all over the place. He’s sweaty, and wearing a t-shirt. Eventually, his shirt rips completely off. As soon as I pulled off my coat and set it down, the guy breaks free and starts running. He comes at me and I basically grab him. When I grab him, we kind of topple over the bar rail and into the gallery portion (of the courtroom). I land basically on top of him”

Grimaldi, a former high school wrestling coach who dabbles in jujitsu, isn’t a stranger to physical struggles. “I can’t take a punch worth a crap, but I can wrestle,” he says. After falling into the gallery section of the courtroom with the defendant, Gramaldi said he managed to get one of the man’s arms behind his back so that courthouse security could get a cuff on him.

“He’s still combative,” Grimaldi said. “Apparently, he starts going into some sort of seizure or something. Right before that, he starts yelling, ‘Just kill me, just kill me, just kill me.’ They have to give him a couple of shots of something to get him out of his state. Finally, they get him on a stretcher and get him out of there.”

Grimaldi said that he does not know the defendant’s name. The medical conditions of neither the courthouse security officer who was injured nor the defendant are clear. Neither Logan County State’s Attorney Jonathan Wright nor Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols, whose deputies were present, could immediately be reached. Aside from two scraped knees, a bruised hip and a cauliflower ear, Grimaldi said that he’s fine.

Grimaldi was in court to represent a woman who was due for sentencing, but the hearing was postponed.

“All in a day’s work,” Grimaldi said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.



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