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Reed Bender charged with new misdemeanor stemming from September 2020 school board incident

Davison County State's Attorney Jim Miskimins declined comment on the case Tuesday.

Reed Bender File.jpg
Reed Bender is escorted out of a September 2020 Mitchell Board of Education meeting for refusing to wear a mask per district protocols in this file photo. Bender was charged with obstructing a police officer in the incident, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. (Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic)
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More than one month after a jury couldn't agree on a verdict related to Reed Bender's obstruction charge, the Davison County State's Attorney has filed a new criminal complaint against him.

Reed Bender, 40, was charged Monday, Nov. 29, with refusing to leave property after notice when police were called to remove him from a Mitchell Board of Education meeting on Sept. 14, 2020.

Now, more than 14 months after the incident — and more than one month since his obstruction trial rendered a hung jury — Bender will be starting the legal process over with a new charge.

Bender's attorney, R. Shawn Tornow, was unaware of the new charge at the time the Mitchell Republic contacted him for comment.

"I'm quite surprised that the state's attorney didn't have the courtesy to contact me, as Reed's attorney, about some new charge some 15 months later in this case," Tornow said. "At this point I haven't even reviewed the charge or who they claim the witnesses are, but we will be doing that in the very near future and certainly we'll continue to defend all of Reed's constitutional rights in this matter."

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Mitchell resident Reed Bender, right, walks out of the Davison County Public Safety Center alongside his attorney R. Shawn Tornow after turning himself in for an indictment of obstruction of police on Oct. 29, 2020 in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Bender's latest charge was filed via criminal complaint, in which Miskimins alleges that Bender "defied an order to leave personally communicated to him by the owner of the premises or by any other authorized person."

Miskimins declined Tuesday to comment on the case. Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves, who is listed in court documents as a witness to the alleged crime, said Tuesday the school district was not involved in the decision to file new charges against Bender.

Video from the board meeting shows Mitchell police officers Niko Arnold and Tyler Urban asking Bender to comply with the Mitchell School District's masking requirements.

"If it's part of their policy that you have to wear a mask in order to be here then you have to wear a mask," Arnold told Bender.

"Force me out," Bender replied. "You're going to have to drag me out."

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Moments later, a minor scuffle ensued, as officers grabbed Bender in an attempt to remove him from the building. In the video, Bender can be seen grabbing the officers clothes and pulling away from them, prompting Arnold to draw his stun gun — though it was never fired.

The officers escorted Bender out of the building, as Graves followed. No arrest was made that night, but he was later charged by Davison County State's Attorney Jim Miskimins with obstruction of a police officer.

Following the filing of Bender's refusal to leave charge, a judge in Davison County signed a warrant for Bender's arrest, but set a personal recognizance bond in the matter, which would allow Bender to be immediately released from jail on the condition he promises to appear to all court proceedings.

No initial appearance has been set for Bender in the refusal to leave case. His obstruction charges is set to be re-tried in a Davison County courtroom beginning Jan. 19, 2022.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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