From Darkness To Light

19 Nov 2020

Punched in face: crime motivated by fear, offensive speech, gender & party affiliation

Posted by Adam Howell

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A woman who punched an unmasked man at O’Reilly Auto Parts in Durango has identified her fear of him, as well as the victim’s gender and his party affiliation as possible motives for initiating violence.

It started when Ryan Bartholomew, age 39, of Durango, was with a friend making a purchase at O’Reilly Auto Parts.

In the next line over, getting ready to pay for items at a register, was Sadie Wendt, age 23, of Durango, and her girlfriend.

While at the register, Wendt asked the employee Curtis Wood why the customers were not required to wear masks.

Overhearing this, was Bartholomew, who was standing in a separate line. Behind Bartholomew in a separate group of customers was Lisa Zimmerman and her 14-year-old son.

In response to Wendt’s complaint at the register, the customers in the store, who she referred to as “Republican a$$holes”, started mocking her, she said to Officer James Perkovich who wrote the supplemental incident narrative.

“Maybe you need to shut your mouth and educate yourself a little bit, because it’s not a law, it’s a mandate,” said Bartholomew.

Zimmerman also defended the cashier.

“Just because your governor says something, doesn’t make it a law,” she said to Wendt.

She pretty much lost it at that point and started cussing at all of us, Zimmerman said about Wendt.

“You guys are fuc$ing idiots. You guys are fuc$ing morons,” Zimmerman recalls Wendt saying.

In response, Bartholomew told her to shut up and choke on her mask.

“Why don’t you take your mask off, and put it around your neck and tie it real tight until your mouth stops working,” Bartholomew said.

Unmasked patron gets punched, then defends himself

After Bartholomew told her to choke herself with her mask, multiple witnesses in the store said the Wendt ran about 10 feet towards Bartholomew and punched him in the jaw.

Sadie Wendt’s neck after the incident.

During the interview after the incident with Perkovich, Wendt made the claim that what Bartholomew said to her about the mask was a threat, and therefore justified her when she punched him.

In self defense during the incident, Bartholomew grabbed her shirt and neck by her shoulders, and then put Sadie on the ground, said Zimmerman. Then he threw his leg over Wendt, trying to restrain her, she said.

“The reason she had a red mark on her neck right here; it lines perfectly up with her shirt,” said Bartholomew.

“I said hey, you’re not going to hit me again, and you’re going to jail.”

Then, she starts throwing a fit on the ground like a toddler, he said.

Flailing around on the ground screaming, “I’m a woman, you can’t touch me.”

“So I just back off,” said Bartholomew. “I never tried to hold her down or pin her or keep her there.”

After some struggling, it appeared that Wendt was calming down and Bartholomew let her stand up, said Zimmerman.

She went to a register where she finished purchasing her products with her girlfriend, according to Bartholomew.

Witness observes attempt at private person arrest following patron getting punched

Zimmerman was about to start video recording the incident violence that started with Bartholomew getting punched. Instead, she decided to call 911.

“I’m dialing 911, and she goes to charge at him a second time, and I stepped in between him and her,” said Zimmerman. “I was hoping, ‘if you’re going to hit someone, please hit me, because I can hit you back.”

Before Wendt left the store, Ryan stood in the doorway and made himself look big, Zimmerman said.

“You know, if you were to face a bear, how they tell you always to get big,” Zimmerman said. “He did that in the doorway. He put his arms out and spread his legs.”

Wendt replied, ‘I’m leaving and you can’t stop me,’ Zimmerman said.

Under Colorado law, arrest by a private person may be allowed, even if it’s for a misdemeanor offense.

“A person who is not a peace officer may arrest another person when any crime has been or is being committed by the arrested person in the presence of the person making the arrest,” according to Colorado Revised Statute 16-3-201. Arrest by a private person.

“She goes running again and tried to barrel straight through him, and she couldn’t get through him. And she dropped on the ground and started screaming that he was assaulting her and she is a woman,” said Zimmerman.

First-person account of attempt at private person arrest

As Wendt is purchasing her products at a register, Bartholomew prepares to make a private person arrest.

Wendt said that she was threatened when she punched Bartholomew.

Sadie Wendt, middle, told Officer Perkovich that Bartholomew’s language was not free speech.

“I went over by the front door and I said you’re not going anywhere, you’re going to wait here until the cops get here, because you just assaulted me,” he said.

Bartholomew is pacing back and forth in front of the front door, he said.

“So then she pays for her parts, and she is going to go leave. She’s walking towards me, right. And I’m standing by the front door with my arms folded in front of me again, and I said you’re not going anywhere, you’re waiting her until the cops come,” he said.

Bartholomew’s version of what happened at that point was a little bit different than Zimmerman’s account.

“So she walks up to me and latches on to my shirt as my arms are crossed,” said Bartholomew. “I turn to break her hold, and the she just falls on the ground and starts screaming.”

“I’m a woman, you can’t touch me,” he remembers her saying.

“She’s flailing at my feet so aggressively, she knocks off one of my sandals; my flip flop,” said Bartholomew.

“I back away because Curtis the manager comes up, and he says you cannot legally hold her here,” he said.

“I say, ‘she just assaulted me, how can I not’,” said Bartholomew.

Bartholomew doesn’t want to start any more BS, so he just obliges and backs away from Wendt, he said.

“So when I back away from her, she picks up my shoe, takes it, gets in her girlfriends car, and as she’s driving out of the parking lot throws my flip flop out the window,” said Bartholomew.

Wendt leaves the store after she punched Ryan

On the way out, Wendt grabs Bartholomew’s sandal and tosses it across the parking lot. She leaves in a blue Subaru with her partner and pulls over shortly thereafter to meet with police, who she called.

Sadie Wendt was cited with disorderly conduct after she punched Ryan Bartholomew.

Sadie Wendt was cited with disorderly conduct after she punched Bartholomew.

Officer Perkovich comes to interview her. One of the first things that she says when she gets out of the car was that she was assaulted.

In contrast to that first statement, she does tell Officer Perkovich that she “kind of hit him” in response to what Bartholomew said.

Before leaving, Officers Perkovich and Jackson issue Wendt a ticket for Disorderly Conduct. This for having started the physical violence when she punched Bartholomew.

In his report, Perkovich said that Wendt thought that she could punch Bartholomew in the face once because she was a woman. She was under the impression that Bartholomew didn’t have the right to defend himself, Perkovich said.

“Maybe I’m being sexist, but like, I thought it was just like a thing that men don’t touch women,” Wendt said to Officer Perkovich.

An officer that Bartholomew talked with after the incident said that Wendt would be charged with assault, said Bartholomew. He later found out that she was charged with disorderly conduct, instead.

Disorderly conduct, as written under Colorado Revised Statute 18-9-106:

A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly: (d)Fights with another in a public place except in an amateur or professional contest of athletic skill,” according to C.R.S. 18-9-106.

It is unclear why the officers decided not to charge Wendt with assault, menacing or a crime of bias (hate crime).

Incident narrative from Wendt family

The following day, the Wendt family posted on Facebook about the incident.

After punching Bartholomew, she turned away and “he proceeded to assault me by slamming me to the ground, putting me into a choke hold, holding my body to the ground, hitting my back and dragging my body with his arms around my neck. During this my breasts were exposed and I was being handled in ways I could never imagine, despite having grown up fighting with two brothers who have always been significantly bigger than me. I wasn’t fighting back. I wasn’t antagonizing him any longer. My whole body went limp and the only thing I could do was ‘play dead,'” she said.

“My body couldn’t do anything else because of this man’s strength. There were people surrounding us, men and women encouraging him to do this to me. This was mob mentality at its finest. I finally was able to free myself with the help of ONE bystander man who helped lift me up,” said Wendt.

The day after the incident, Sadie’s mom Christina Wendt told another narrative on Facebook. Christina said that Bartholomew grabbed Sadie from behind after Sadie punched him, he put her in a choke hold, threw her to the ground, pushed her face into the ground then dragged her across the floor. And at one point rammed her head against the glass door. In the process of this he touched her breasts a number of times and her breasts were also exposed, she said.

Multiple witnesses of the incident refuted the Wendt’s claims that Bartholomew touched Sadie’s breasts or that her breasts were exposed. Zimmerman

Later, Sadie’s brother Myles Wendt accused one of the witnesses of being a “woman beater” on Facebook and said that he sounded like the POS who assaulted her.

Body worn camera evidence, disorderly conduct case

To investigate further I went to the Durango Police Department office to submit a request for the Axon body worn camera evidence of Officer Perkovich.

While speaking with Records Technician David Smith, I made it very clear that I did not want to pay the hefty price for the records ($130 dollars) if the faces of the offender were going to be redacted in the video.

Smith reassured me that the images of the offender would not be redacted. Instead, the images of minors, and people unrelated to the incident would be redacted.

To my dismay, when I received the video, the images of Wendt were indeed mostly blurred.

Smith later apologized to me for accidentally misleading me about what would be blurred in the body camera video. He did not realize that the department’s policy was to try and blur the skin of everyone in the videos, he said.

However, there were a few images where the blurring technology was not working as it was intended.

O’Reilly Auto Parts did not have any in-store cameras that recorded the incident. Additionally, none of the witnesses recorded what happened that day.

Death threats against multiple witnesses of attack

Once all of the drama had unfolded at the store, a flurry of death threats to witnesses occurred.

For one, someone called in a death threat to employee Curtis Wood of O’Reilly Auto Parts, said Wood. Wood was working a register when Sadie Wendt became agitated and ran to punch Bartholomew.

Wood would not elaborate on the details of the death threat.

Also threatened with death was Bartholomew. People left him threatening voicemails, emails and Facebook messages, he said. Some were threats of burning his business down. Another threat was for bricks through the window by Antifa.

Somebody actually did bust out one of the windows at his business.

Despite the avalanche of hatred and false accusations that were leveled at Bartholomew, a couple of witnesses were impressed with the level of restraint that Bartholomew showed while defending himself after getting punched.

“He handled that way better than any man I know would have,” said Zimmerman.

Follow up to case against lady who punched unmasked man

Several months after the incident, a case update is given to me by Lead Court Clerk Debbi Sykes, of Durango Municipal Court.

“A deferred prosecution agreement was reached with the following conditions:

  • Defendant will have no similar violations for 90 days.
  • The Defendant will pay $41.00 in court costs by 02/01/2021
  • Defendant will complete 10 hours of community service by 02/01/2021

A follow up court date set for 02/15/2021 @ 08:30 only if the sentence has not been completed,” said Sykes.

I was recently denied a physical records request form (11/18/2020) in person at the Durango Municipal Court. Debbie Sykes, the Lead Court Clerk, refused to give me a record request form when I asked for one at the court clerk window. She told me that I would have to do the request online.

It is unclear if it is lawful to deny someone a physical record request form when requested in person in Colorado.

To read about an encounter that I had with officers of the Durango Police Department, click here.

Adam Howell is an unaffiliated voter and writer who believes in the constitution and accountability for all. He can be reached with feedback or death threats by clicking on this link to the contact page.

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