WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 17, 2011, 10:16 AM

Victim of illegal arrest reacts to the officer's punishment

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - After hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits, and a week long police investigation, the Wahpeton Police Department is punishing the officer who arrested a teenager, who was videotaping him in public. The police chief says there was insufficient cause.

The Wahpeton Police Chief says Dustin Hill will get a 5-day suspension without pay effective May 13th. He also said if any actions like this happen again the officer will be fired. For Robert Wanek and his Family, it was a day of vindication.

ROBERT WANEK - Victim of Unlawful Arrest: “The warning given to the officer will probably serve as a precedent that officers won't be allowed to make violations like this in the future for anybody.”

We spoke with the arresting officer Dustin Hill over the phone, however he refused to comment.

Wanek: “It will make law enforcement officials aware of the First Amendment rights of press to any citizen.”

In a statement released by Chief of Police Scott Thorsteinson, the department acknowledges Officer Hill made the arrest with insufficient probable cause. We also spoke with Wahpeton City Council Members and the Mayor who all refused to comment.

KIM WANEK - Mother of Robert: “It's wrong and you just can't do whatever you want to just because you think it's right.”

Wanek's mother Kim said it's important people like her son stand up for what is right.

Robert Wanek: “The fact that even though this happened to me, I think it will serve more justice for more people in a larger spectrum than just Wahpeton.”

The Wanek family has not ruled out the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit against the police department. The Video of Wanek being arrested now sits at more than 365-thousand hits on Youtube.

Officer Hill will also be required to complete 40 hours of training on Wahpeton municipal ordinances, the North Dakota Century Code and Constitutional Law; all before June first of next year.

Officer Hill isn't the only person being forced to take some extra training. Police Chief Thorsteinson is requiring all members of the Wahpeton Police Department to attend in-service training regarding rules of arrest and constitutional law. The Wahpeton City Attorney will be teaching the class.

STEVE LIES - Wahpeton City Attorney: “We will be discussing any changes as well as any history of reasonable suspicion, probable cause and arrests, how they relate to each other.”

Lies is expected to teach the class sometime in June.