(Riverton, Wyo.) – A 24-year-old Hudson man charged with an allegedly racially tinged bar fight has been released on unsupervised probation following a plea agreement.
James Edward Crooks was originally charged with felony aggravated assault and battery and misdemeanor battery after punching Darryn Davis outside of the Bombers Sports Bar in Riverton on March 9.
Per a plea agreement, the charges in Wyoming’s Ninth District Court were dismissed and Crooks pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment on July 9. He was ordered to serve 14 days in jail out of a 180-day sentence. Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said Crooks has left the state since serving his time.
Despite the seriousness of Davis’s injuries, Bennett said they did not meet the threshold of “serious bodily injury” required to prove aggravated assault and battery. Bennett told County10.com that he used tests outlined by the Wyoming Supreme Court and compared those with Davis’s health records. “It just didn’t fit the statute,” he said.
Bennett said his work in evaluating the case was double-checked by Deputy County Attorney Pat LeBrun. He declined to release specifics about Davis’s injuries citing the victim’s privacy.
After Crooks punched Davis once, he did suffer facial fractures and was life-flighted Casper.
Bennett said it would be unethical for him to charge someone with a crime that he didn’t believe the defendant committed. He said he declined to drop all charges because his office didn’t believe Crooks’s actions amounted to self-defense and did warrant a penalty.
It is also alleged that Crooks, a caucasian, called Davis, of mixed Native American and African American ancestry, a racial slur before striking him. Noting that Wyoming does not have hate crime laws, Bennett said, “We can’t prosecute to make a social statement.”
However, Bennett agreed racial issues in the county are “valid, real and still exist.”