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Mentele Claims SDSU Cops Assaulted Daughter on Campus Saturday Night

Melissa Mentele has enough to worry about with getting her three initiative petitions signed and submitted by November 6. She doesn’t need any legal or media distractions.

But she’s got one. At 4:42 a.m. Sunday morning, Mentele posted on Facebook that her daughters had been assaulted by University police at South Dakota State University. That Sioux Falls paper reports the incident and resulting investigation here; SDGOP spinster and ballot measure opponent Pat Powers coyly dismisses the incident and suggest the girls had it coming here.

I wasn’t there (and even when I was on campus many moons ago, I always missed the big action), so I’ll stick with reposting Mentele’s text and inviting you to look at Mentele’s photos on her FB post yourself:

****9/11 update Internal Affairs called this morning. There has been a full investigation started on the excessive use of force. We ask everyone to please not harass Jason Baker he is being dealt with through his job & the county prosecutors office. Neither girl has any charges except resisting arrest and Lillian for obstructing the arrest of Madison they were not charged with anything else….think about that they resisted an arrest for not committing a crime.****

****Updated Info & Pictures added from 12 hours later. Her bones in hand were dislocated not broken thankfully. She was examined by the ER today, had x-rays and was treated for multiple contusions.****

The events of tonight will haunt our family forever. At 11:27pm on 9/9 both Brent and my phones rang Lillian Mentele on one and Madison E Mentele on the other. We answered to what a parent would call absolute hell. The horrified screams, panic and hysteria in both girls voices combined with the sounds of a violent attack will be on replay in my head for a long time.

The terrifying thing is the violent attack was from someone I have spent years teaching them to trust, respect and look for in times of need. Madison was brutally attacked by a campus police officer on the SDSU campus. He dislocated the bones in her hand, left bruises all over her body, charged her with resisting arrest after he dislocated her hand because she was screaming in agony, arrested her with out reading her Miranda rights to her and arrested Lillian for screaming at him to stop hurting Madison & to help her because he had hurt her so badly. This officer was over 6ft tall and 250lbs and went “hand to hand” <—his words because Madison couldn’t sit on the ground due to her knee injury she has been dealing with since the car accident back in August.

Madison is in shock and is in pretty bad shape. Her dislocated hand will end her Senior JV Volleyball season which is devastating to her. We will be going into acute care in a few hours to have her hand casted. We just got home from Brookings.

Madison is a minor. Her crime…walking on campus minding her own business with her sister & friends.

We need an attorney, a civil one and a criminal one. We also need his body camera footage before it disappears.

I am taking a personal day today to deal with this. Pray for Madison she is absolutely traumatized and hasn’t stopped shaking in the past 5 hours.

Police brutality is real and it is happening right here in SD.

These photos were taken while being recorded in front of a Brookings County Sherriff inside the waiting area on their advice to ensure evidence was not tampered with. They were unable to document the injuries so they suggested we do it there on camera so there was no question on how she was released to me. They also suggested we either Sunshine Act or Subpoena the footage right away Monday to ensure it didn’t get “lost” [Melissa Mentele, Facebook post, 2017.09.10].

The SDSU Collegian notes that consumption of alcohol was involved, though it is not clear that said consumption was illegal:

According to multiple Facebook posts, Melissa Mentele said her daughter, a senior at Emery High School, suffered dislocated bones in her hand and multiple scrapes and bruises when a UPD officer arrested her and her sister Lillian at 11:27 p.m. Saturday on SDSU campus. Melissa said her daughter has been charged with resisting arrest.

Lillian tweeted the morning of Sept. 10 that her sister was breathalyzed and blew a .03. According to the tweet, Lillian has been charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a law enforcement officer [Garrett Ammesmaki, “Mother Claims Arrested Daughter Suffered ‘Violent Attack’ by UPD Officer,” SDSU Collegian, 2017.09.11].

Unfortunately for Mentele, whom I’m sure would rather be focusing on the home stretch of her petition drive, there is probably more to come.


  1. Kurt Evans 2017-09-12 16:21

    Oh, the irony:

    Regardless of what facts may emerge about this incident, the South Dakota State University police department is a den of iniquity, and it has been for at least 15 years. The problem starts at the top with campus police chief Timothy Alan Heaton and trickles down through corrupt employees like former officer Scott David Fleming:

  2. happy camper 2017-09-12 17:45

    As always wait for the facts to come out, but skepticism says there is more to the story than mother knows.

  3. Neal 2017-09-12 21:18

    Mentele’s account is over the top, full of hyperbole (“brutally attacked”; “horrified screams”; “absolutely traumatized”; etc.), and ultimately not credible. The photos don’t support anything even close to resembling her description of what happened, and the fact that her underage daughter tested positive for alcohol indicates that there’s much more to the story than her claims, which border on preposterous.

    Here’s what probably happened: Madison was found in a public place after curfew; law enforcement made contact and smelled alcohol; the PBT confirmed that alcohol had been consumed; she was cited for underage drinking; the officer attempted to make a lawful arrest; she resisted, and thus parlayed a class 2 misdemeanor into a class 1 misdemeanor. Law enforcement will often elect to not charge the lesser offense in situations like this, so the absence of any additional charges means nothing.

    Her daughters screwed up and are compounding it with these ridiculous claims. Take your lumps, learn you lesson, and move on.

    The bigger issue is the negative impact this will have on the marijuana ballot measures she is working to advance, which are righteous and deserve to succeed. This event would have been a non-factor … until she decided to make it a crusade about police brutality.

    Police overreach is an issue that’s worth talking about in the right context. But when you have a couple of bruises on your wrist that you got because you made it difficult for a cop to lawfully arrest you, that’s on you.

    If Mentele wants to pursue this, she should step away from the ballot measures. Her continued involvement will only hurt their chances for success.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-12 21:26

    Neal—”what probably happened”? Sheer speculation.

    On two of Neal’s speculated details, working just from the facts publicly available: were curfew violation or underage drinking part of the charges on which either girl was arrested?

  5. Neal 2017-09-12 21:43

    Sheer speculation indeed … based on decades of experience working in criminal justice. Take it for what it’s worth, but Melissa wasn’t there either. She believes her daughters; I don’t.

    Like I said, it’s not uncommon for the lesser violation (underage drinking) to not be charged when there’s a more serious violation (resisting arrest) that’s available to the arresting officer.

    If the daughter did in fact produce a positive PBT, as this post indicates, then that’s an obviously legitimate basis for an arrest.

  6. Jenny 2017-09-12 22:28

    So that’s it, Kurt? Why even comment when you don’t finish your claims about the SDSU police?

  7. M 2017-09-12 23:17


    1% of the story is made public at this point. Wait for the truth. Not one thing you speculated on is even remotely close to what happened. I wasn’t there BUT it was witnessed by several individuals including staff.


  8. Kurt Evans 2017-09-12 23:48

    Jenny asks:

    So that’s it, Kurt? Why even comment when you don’t finish your claims about the SDSU police?

    I’ve finished the claims I’m making today.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-13 05:07

    Neal, the PBT appears to have been obtained after the alleged violent treatment of the suspects. Does that affect the acceptability of the use of force?

  10. Neal 2017-09-13 08:34

    Honestly I don’t care what happened. I care deeply about the ballot measures, and I maintain my belief that the attention Melissa is drawing to this incident makes it less likely they will succeed. She needs to pick a horse and ride it.

  11. Mel 2017-09-13 09:31


    Put your money and your time where your mouth is and come volunteer. If you cared so much you would be helping. Do NOT ever tell me to choose between the safety & well being of my children or my organization again. My family will always come first and you asking otherwise is ridiculous.

  12. Neal 2017-09-13 09:43

    When you make a public spectacle about something like this I’ll tell you whatever […unnecessarily rude—CAH…] I want to tell you.

    And to be clear, I didn’t tell you to choose the ballot measures over your police brutality crusade. I told you to pick one or the other. Please do that.

  13. M 2017-09-13 10:41

    I will not choose and you are fool to even suggest it.

    You will come to find out had other parents made a public “spectacle” of this he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to harm my child and countless others. Wait for the rest of the story before you come and try to tell me I am wrong. I am an ADVOCATE for disabled humans and those who cannot find their voice that is MY JOB why would you even think I would step down when it is my own family who needs a voice.

  14. mike from iowa 2017-09-13 11:01

    Resisting arrest is a charge that has outlived its usefulness. It also is a charge that can be added (piled on) for any reason the officer(s) choose.

  15. Rorschach 2017-09-13 11:13

    Jenny, that grinding sound you hear is Kurt’s axe.

  16. Kurt Evans 2017-09-13 12:06

    Hey Melissa, I’m sorry about the abuse you’re taking at the Pat Powers blog, and I totally disagree with the above suggestion by Neal (if that’s his real name) that you should withdraw from the political arena because people are mass-lying about you. I’m impressed by your poise, and I really believe you’re going to come out of this on top. Hang in there.

  17. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 12:10

    South Dakota is a sheltered and often naive part of our USA’s culture. Cops, ministers, teachers and politicians receive default respect before they’ve actually earned it. This is one reason why the state is among the very most corrupt. Ms. Mentele and her daughters are on base when they stand up to police abuse and physical manhandling. As she says, if someone else had stood up to the abuse her kids might have avoided this lifelong trauma. If this was my daughter, I’d sue. If it’s revealed that Jason Baker has a history of abuse at his other two LE jobs and SDSU hired him anyway, or didn’t even check, I’d ask the judge for the price of a full ride education at the college of choice for both girls plus a large punitave award. If this is an Eagle scout gone abusive, exemplary compensation is only proper.

  18. Rorschach 2017-09-13 12:20

    A police officer friend once told me that some officers pour water on a fire and some pour fuel on a fire. Here we don’t even know yet whether there was a fire, let alone what liquid may have been applied. We don’t know if Ms. Mentele’s daughters behaved badly or if the officer applied disproportionate force. We don’t know if the officer caused the visible injuries or if the young lady caused them struggling against handcuffs. It’s all speculation at this point. We do know that underage drinking is cause for a ticket to be issued, though not by itself usually cause for arrest.

  19. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 12:43

    A retired police Captain from Chicago described his force in this way, Ror. He said 30% will do the right thing every time. 30% will practice self-interest every time, even if it meant committing a crime. And 30% will do what the Captain does. An “honest to a fault” Captain will have 60% loyalty. A conniving Captain will also have 60% loyalty. The final 10% just react without a pre-conceived notion.

  20. Neal 2017-09-13 12:51

    The abuse Melissa is taking at the SDWC is precisely why she should step back from the ballot measures, assuming she intends to continue with the very public campaign against law enforcement overreach that the is advancing on behalf of her daughters.

    Otherwise, the main proponent of the marijuana measures will be characterized as an anti-law enforcement provocateur, which will absolutely hurt the measures on election day. Doesn’t matter if it’s true; doesn’t matter if her daughters really were victims. Perception is reality on this issue, and the perception will be crafted by Powers and others.

    If you don’t see this coming, you haven’t been paying attention to SD politics for long enough.

  21. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 13:03

    Neal … not one voter will be swayed by this. Those opposed to marijuana will vote NO. There are only a miniscule number of undecided on the issue. How many times have people already voted on medical marijuana? Enough to have an opinion and enough to embolden the silent majority be they pro or con.

  22. Neal 2017-09-13 13:34

    Medical marijuana has been voted on in SD twice now. It got 48% the first time. It didn’t even get 40% the second time. Obviously the trend is not in the right direction, national sentiment notwithstanding.

    This isn’t Colorado, Porter. There is literally no margin for error for this issue in South Dakota. I disagree with your assessment that voters will not be swayed by this.

  23. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 13:55

    Neal … I respect your opinions and believe they are based on facts. Here’s one of mine. Pot became legal in CO after six tries at the polls. What changed was the same thing that is going to bring the new Amazon HQ2 to Colorado. Only 14% of our people use cannabis but over 65% of Republicans don’t want to see someone’s life ruined by something that doesn’t really matter … especially young peoples lives. Big business feels the same way about their employees kids and family members. Do SoDak Republicans want to punish pot smokers? Take away their ability to get a job? Make them move away? We’re talking about Republican’s kids. Like your kids and grandkids,legislators.
    Enough from me. This thread is about bad cops and negligent University police forces. Those things are way more important than what someone does for diversion or to ease chronic medical conditions.

  24. Rorschach 2017-09-13 14:03

    The new Amazon HQ2 will go to Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota, Mr. Lansing. I agree with you on the rest of what you said.

  25. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 14:26

    Betcha a nickel, Ror. lol

  26. Porter Lansing 2017-09-13 15:17

    I WILL say that Miranda/Jon Kohn is one ass…le of a human being. Picking on a kid burned by 200 degree hot chocolate. Quite possibly the most two faced, manipulating pr..k to ever come out of Roncalli. Bad on you, @OfficerCupcake

  27. Neal 2017-09-13 15:25

    Regarding Miranda, we are in complete agreement, Porter.

  28. Douglas Wiken 2017-09-13 18:05

    0.03 BAC is insignificant unless driving and even then is not considered a significant threat for experienced drivers even if it is stupid and inadvisable to drive with any BAC level. Depending on weight of the girl and time of drinking, a cup of beer might be all that is involved.

    I am wondering what possible probable cause for stopping these girls existed. If they were doing nothing but walking, this appears to be harassment under color of authority.

    If this proves nothing else, it proves that alcohol is more of a problem and more dangerous than is use of pot. I worked in the SD:ASAP program and saw so much social devastation and death from alcohol that taxes on booze should be raised until the cover the full social costs of alcohol.

    License the buyers of marijuana and alcohol and require sellers of the drugs to label every contained they sell with indelible stamps of the dealer number and the buyer number. Then focus on those providing the drugs illegally to underage, etc.

    Require psychological testing of all cops before hiring and every 6 months or so after ward. Get the sadists and mental cases out of enforcement.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-13 18:11

    Neal, I disagree that any abuse, anonymous or nymous, hurled at a public figure on the SDGOP spin blog should compel that public figure to alter her behavior. I can think of no way in which that abuse should compel Mentele to step back from the ballot measures (which is exactly what the SDGOP spin blog is hoping to achieve by slandering and marginalizing a successful organizer working against its party’s platform and prejudices). The only logical change I might recommend in response to DWC comment-section abuse is not to bother engaging the DWC comment section or the DWC author who invites and encourages that abuse.

  30. M 2017-09-13 19:37

    I won’t even go over there to read the comments. Some people are just evil. I can about imagine what they are saying. I saw above someone mentioned what happened to my youngest in MN 2 years ago. I encourage everyone with questions to call the hotel ask for the manager & ask him what recourse we requested. It was pretty easy I think it didn’t even cost them a penny. They had the machine serviced, we paid the Med bills and it was done. We were just scared because the dispenser was face level & accessible to a toddlers height. We didn’t want anyone else to be harmed. I can’t help that when things are dangerous I do point them out. Just like I pick up animals off the roads, stand my neighbors trash cans up when the wind knocks them down, help our elderly neighbor and hold the door open for people…I was raised right & to be a good human. I guess in 2017 that’s the exception not the rule.

  31. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-13 19:45

    Great advice, Mr. H.
    I’ll be politically honest. Had one of these young ladies had a quarter gram of pot in their purse, their Mom’s ballot measure might have hit a speed bump. But, there’s no reason that these girls would have pot, use pot or anything else. I’m just visualizing how that situation would have been portrayed on the “judgmental blog”. Wild and rampant, uneducated overreaction, I’d presume.

  32. Anne Beal 2017-09-13 22:01

    If you do a little checking you learn a few things:
    There’s no curfew on the SDSU campus.
    The municipal curfew in Brookings is midnight on Saturday nights and applies only to kids under 16. The incident occured at 11:27 and the kid is 17.
    So whatever happened, a curfew violation wasn’t involved.

  33. grudznick 2017-09-13 22:10

    Mr. Lansing should be referred to, and rightly so by the polite culture that grudznick has instilled here at the Madville Times, as Mr. Lansing. He should only be called by his given name if he gives permission. Mr. Lansing is the name that grudznick has bestowed upon him. And sometimes he makes reasonable sense, and appetizers.

  34. Neal 2017-09-13 22:39

    It’s much more than what’s said at the DWC, Cory. It’s what’s said by opponents of the measure as we get closer to election day, and how that gains traction with voters. It might start with Powers but it spreads well beyond that, and people cast their votes on medical marijuana based more on conventional wisdom than the merits. Like it or not, Powers has an impact on the Republican conventional wisdom in this state — which means the vast majority of people. This just gives him another arrow for his quiver.

    Perhaps I’m just jaded by what’s happened in the past. Twice now I’ve seen this issue (medical marijuana) defeated by South Dakota voters — notably, the only two time it’s EVER lost in an election in the United States when a simple majority vote required passage — and both times the main argument against the measure was a personal one directed toward its primary proponent, Bob Newland. God bless him, but Bob took a vinegar-over-honey approach to making friends and influencing people, at least based on what he wrote on blogs and other social media. Newland won every single intellectual battle against Powers, but Powers won both wars, at least as measured by election results.

    It was beyond frustrating to see an important issue lose at the polls when so much of the opposition was based on personal attacks, but like I said above, that’s just how it is in South Dakota. Powers is a despicable rat of a human being, but Bob gave him material to work with. Just like Melissa is now.

    The extent to which this has any bearing on election results might be debatable, but I contend that it’s substantial, at least in South Dakota, at least on this issue. As I said before, there’s no room for error. Every vote counts.

    To be clear, I have a great deal of respect for Melissa for what she’s done to advance this cause. I am grateful for her efforts, which far exceed my own. But it needs to be said: the attention she has sought (and may continue to seek) regarding what happened with her daughter WILL be used to attack her, and, by association, her cause(s). I don’t want that to happen.

  35. Kurt Evans 2017-09-14 01:22

    Douglas Wiken writes:

    I am wondering what possible probable cause for stopping these girls existed.

    SDSU police chief Tim Heaton thinks it’s probable cause if someone feels uncomfortable.

    Get the sadists and mental cases out of enforcement.

    Yes, and start with Heaton.

    By the way, Mr. Wiken, I enjoyed your 500th-anniversary hit piece on Johann Tetzel:

    Cory writes:

    The only logical change I might recommend in response to DWC comment-section abuse is not to bother engaging the DWC comment section or the DWC author who invites and encourages that abuse.

    I’m glad Melissa answered the lies at the Pat Powers blog, but I’ve stopped attaching my name to comments there because Powers was arbitrarily removing some of them and leaving others, which took the comments he didn’t remove out of context in ways that seemed defamatory.

  36. Porter Lansing 2017-09-14 05:22

    Thanks for the encouragement , Grudzie. I was born Porter Hardy Lansing IV but time and necessity has whittled down the options to just Mr. Lansing. Mr. L would be quicker but retirement isn’t much about speed and there’re little need to disguise my “out of state” agenda. Oh, yeah. Get a haircut you old goat. You’re shaggier than Fred McMurry’s dog. :0)

  37. Jenny 2017-09-14 09:16

    White America is beginning to wake up to the problem of police thug brutality. This is real, people and it’s happening way way too often. The RN in Utah, the Australian woman shot dead in Minneapolis. Minorities have been dealing with this for decades.
    Wiken is absolutely, correct. Get the sociopaths, thugs, bullies and wimps out of the police force.

  38. Bob Newland 2017-09-14 09:41

    I don’t mind Neal’s analysis of the situations about which he speaks. As for me, I realized after a couple of years of advocacy inside the capitol and on the streets that my role would be one of absorbing personal attacks and being an “unreasonable proponent of an unreasonable policy” in the eyes of the despicable rats whom elected Bill Janklow SIX TIMES to the two most powerful positions in a state that is 49th or 50th in every important category of those public policies that lead to citizen happiness.

    If I misused “whom,” please let me know.

  39. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-14 09:48

    Latest data from The Green State … since pot legalization:
    1. teen marijuana use is down
    2. opioid abuse is way down
    3. the only significant category showing increased pot use is senior citizens
    ~ Number three leads to the next reform needed. Including marijuana purchases into Medicare approved prescription status. Seniors want it! *Maybe SoDak can do a trial law where only folks over 55 can buy legal cannabis. Just sayin’. Let the old people vote on that one.

  40. Douglas Wiken 2017-09-14 11:06

    A 21 year old just got sentenced to two years in the penitentiary for possissing two ounces of pot here in Tripp County. I have not heard all of the story yet, but we have had a lot of people harmed and some killed because of their or others use of alcohol. I am no friend of either pot or potable alcohol, but it seems that marijuana is much less damaging and dangerous to society than is alcohol. Both need to be taxed more, and BOTH buyers and sellers licensed. Building more penitentiaries is not a solution to addiction problems. That industry does help line the pockets of the GOP thugs pushing their “tough on crime” BS.

  41. Douglas Wiken 2017-09-14 11:13

    Kurt Evans, thanks for compliment on my post. I added your link to Johann Tetzel to the post.

  42. Rorschach 2017-09-14 13:26

    The senior citizens in my family who moved to Colorado grow their own, Mr. Lansing. They can’t surf in Colorado, but they do like to spend time in nature in your beautiful state. Mostly they just do their own thing and don’t bother anybody. Live and let live.

  43. Kurt Evans 2017-09-14 23:48

    Jenny writes:

    White America is beginning to wake up to the problem of police thug brutality.

    Yes, finally.

    Bob Newland writes:

    … I realized … my role would be one of absorbing personal attacks and being an “unreasonable proponent of an unreasonable policy” in the eyes of the despicable rats whom elected Bill Janklow SIX TIMES …

    If I misused “whom,” please let me know.

    subject/object, he/him, they/them, who/whom

    Since rats is plural, substitute they and them:
    They elected Bill Janklow, or them elected Bill Janklow?
    It’s they (which doesn’t end in m), so it’s who, not whom.

    Douglas Wiken writes:

    Kurt Evans, thanks for compliment on my post. I added your link to Johann Tetzel to the post.

    It looks like you’ve also added information about how even secular society benefits from the ideas of Martin Luther. Good stuff.

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