Saturday, March 29, 2014

Man accused of wielding knife claims they were pliers for pinching nipples of would-be attackers

A man from Ketchum, Idaho is accused of wielding a knife and threatening another person during a fight last weekend. Benjamin B. Charles, 40, was arraigned on a charge of aggravated assault on Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court. Just before 6pm last Saturday, Ketchum police were dispatched for a call about a fight in progress involving about 10 people. People dispersed on foot as police arrived. Some of the crowd went into the Pioneer Saloon. An officer went into the saloon and talked with four people he saw go in.

The group, which included Eric Niesz and Steve Bartkis, both 54, said they were on a bus when Charles and a man named John Emmerick were drunk and using coarse language. When Niesz asked the two men to tone it down, Emmerick became confrontational and threatened him, Niesz said. Meanwhile, Charles pulled out a multi-tool and unfolded the knife attachment. He pointed the knife at Niesz and made stabbing motions toward him, the group told police. Bartkis told Charles he could go to prison for pointing a knife at someone. The group decided they should get off the bus, but Charles and Emmerick followed them.

Charles put away the knife but grabbed his snowboard and brandished it like a weapon, holding it over his shoulder as though he would hit Niesz. Niesz grabbed the snowboard and threw it to the ground, he told police. Emmerick jumped on Niesz's back, and Bartkis stepped in to pull Emmerick off. Bartkis punched Charles in the face, and the fight broke apart. The group told police they last saw Charles walking away. He was described as having missing front teeth, broken glasses and a bloody nose. At the store, a sales associate told police Charles had just been there then left. Police called Charles, and he agreed to meet with officers at the Sun Valley Post Office.

Charles told police that he had tried to calm down Emmerick, who was speaking aggressively to other people while they were on the bus. Charles said Niesz told Emmerick that he wanted to fight and the two began to insult each other. Everyone got off the bus, and Charles followed Emmerick in order to protect him, he said. Charles said he held his snowboard up to protect himself. Asked about whether he pulled a knife, Charles said he pulled out his multi-tool, but opened it to the pliers setting, because someone threatened to stab him. Charles told police he was going to use the pliers to pinch the nipples of whoever threatened him, but he didn't notice anyone with a knife. Police arrested Charles and took him to the Blaine County Jail. No one else was charged with a crime.

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