October 21, 2021
MITCHELL, S.D.–No verdict was reached in the trial of a Mitchell man who was charged with obstruction of justice for refusing to wear a mask during a Mitchell School Board meeting last year.
The Mitchell School District’s mask mandate had been in effect for just over a month on September 14th, 2020, when 38-year old Reed Bender attended that evening’s meeting without a mask.
He was asked to wear one, and when he refused to comply, Mitchell police were called. Bender initially refused the officers’ attempts to remove him from the meeting. A brief physical altercation between the officers and Bender followed, with Bender eventually leaving the premises.
He was later charged with obstruction of justice, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine.
The jury of 12 people could not decide on a verdict after a three-day trial and five hours of deliberation, meaning a hung jury was declared.
Prosecutors intend to seek a re-trial next year.