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Truck driver guilty in 2013 parking lot altercation

Updated: September 17, 2014 6:10AM



A Lake Superior Court jury deliberated five hours Thursday before convicting an Oregon truck driver of battery resulting in bodily injury in an officer-involved shooting outside a family planning clinic.

The jury acquitted Craig Strand, 44, of Portland, Oregon, of charges of disarming a law enforcement officer, and resisting law enforcement resulting in bodily injury.

Judge Salvador Vasquez scheduled a Sept. 18 sentencing hearing. Strand faces six months to three years in prison.

Strand, who testified he was in fear of Merrillville police Patrolman Curtis Minchuk when he asked the officer about tickets left on his tractor-trailer rig that was parked without permission at Planned Parenthood in Merrillville, denied trying to take Minchuk’s gun.

“He attacked me,” Strand said in response to questions by defense attorney Darnail Lyles.

At about 2 p.m. May 20, 2013, Minchuk, who was off-duty and working security, saw an unoccupied semi-trailer parked on the south side of the parking lot at Planned Parenthood in Merrillville. No one inside the agency or the officer who had been on duty before him knew whose truck it was or why it was parked there. Minchuk left two tickets on the windshield. About 4 p.m., Minchuk received a call from Planned Parenthood that a man was inside the lobby complaining about the tickets.

Minchuk told the man, later identified as Strand, that he was illegally parked. Strand complained about the tickets, and Minchuk told him he could speak to a supervisor or show up in court to contest them.

Strand was outside his rig talking on his cell phone and Minchuk told him to get in the truck and leave, but Strand continued to argue and said he wasn’t going anywhere. The officer got out of his car and asked for Strand’s identification, but Strand refused and used profanity. Minchuk then told Strand he was under arrest. Strand said Minchuk slapped the phone out of his hand when he was trying to take pictures of the parking lot.

“I had a very angry police officer in my face,” Strand said during cross examination by deputy prosecutor Michael Woods. “I didn’t think he liked me telling him I have a right to take these pictures.”

Strand said Minchuk tried to grab him and then pushed him. As he started to fall, Strand said he grabbed Minchuk’s arm. They both landed on the ground – Minchuk on his back and Strand on his stomach. Strand punched Minchuk in the face, and as the two men struggled, Minchuk said Strand told him, “I’ve got something for you.”

Minchuk said he felt Strand reaching for his gun. He used his legs to push Strand away, then unholstered his weapon and fired one shot. Strand was wounded in the abdomen.



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