A 20-year-man who fired a gun from a north Minneapolis basketball court as children played nearby was recently sentenced to probation – not prison. August Latimothy Fleming pleaded guilty in May to two felony charges connected to the shooting. According to the charges, Fleming was attacked by another man on the basketball court at Folwell Park on Oct. 3, 2012. The man slashed Fleming in the face with a knife. Security video from park cameras showed Fleming reach into a backpack handed to him by someone else and retrieve a handgun.
“Everything changed in that instant,” wrote Hennepin County District Court Judge William Koch in a nine-page sentencing memorandum. “Mr. Fleming went from being the victim of an assault and one who would have the support and sympathy of the community, to a person with the resolve to standup [sic] against his assailant and earn the scorn of that very same community. He also went from being a victim to a defendant when he did more than permitted under law for self-defense.”
Fleming fired six shots, as nearby children and teenagers ducked and ran.
Koch sentenced Fleming to eight years probation. He wrote that Fleming’s ‘imperfect’ attempt at self-defense was a mitigating factor in the sentence. Koch mentioned other factors as well. He said Fleming didn’t come to the park with a gun and said he only grabbed the gun when it was presented to him “in the heat of the moment.”
However, Koch increased the amount of time Fleming will spend in prison if he violates his probation from five years to seven and a half years. Fleming will also have to serve a year in the workhouse.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman expressed his disappointment in the judge’s decision shortly after it was handed down. “We are deeply disappointed by the sentence and continue to believe that this serious gun violence in a city park merited the mandatory prison sentence,” wrote Freeman in a statement.
The mandatory sentence Freeman is referring to is five years in prison. Fleming has a juvenile record and is prohibited from possessing a gun. He pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person with a firearm and second degree assault.