A 20-year-old in Minnesota learned a hard lesson about why you should avoid social media when you’re under the influence of alcohol, and it is expected to lead to felony charges.
The whole incident began when Harrison Rund of South St. Paul was stopped for speeding for going 68 in a 60 mph zone. Rund and the officer got in an argument, and the officer eventually searched Rund’s vehicle, where he discovered marijuana. Rund was cited, but his biggest mistake came later when he went home and decided to drown his sorrows with alcohol and hop on Twitter.
After drinking a bit, Rund started channeling his frustration with the police into a series of tweets, which read:
@StPaulPoliceFdn dude it’s f***ed up im getting so pissed out here literally thinking about just startin to hunt and kill cops.
@sppdPIO you st. paul police im gonna kill 5 police officers today
@StPaulPoliceFdn im lookin for [Z.] boi and whichever trooper pulled me over lastnight gave me a ticket for going 68 in a 60.
***k the @StPaulPoliceFdn they don’t call me the cop killer for no reason
throw a gerade in the room, watch all you coppers kaboom
Not surprisingly, Rund was arrested the next morning.
Rund knew he screwed up and he penned an apology letter to police before pleading guilty to a charge of making terroristic threats. Under the state guidelines, Rund should have been sentenced to 366 days in jail, but his attorney asked for 365 days so the incident would be recorded as a gross misdemeanor and not a felony offense.
The presiding judge agreed with the attorney, saying he didn’t believe Rund had any intention of carrying out the threats, and he pointed out that Rund didn’t own a weapon and wasn’t trying to look up where the cops lived. The judge also noted that a felony sentence would stick with the 20-year-old for life, and that he didn’t think such a harsh charged would be “in the best interests of society.”
The judge eventually sentenced Rund to four months in jail, which means the crime is considered a misdemeanor. However, that wasn’t the end of the case for Rund. Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the presiding judge was too lenient in his sentencing. They ruled that most individuals who make terroristic threats don’t intent to carry out the threat, and even though it would be rare for someone in Rund’s position to carry out his threats, the lack of intent doesn’t mitigate the seriousness of his words. The Minnesota Supreme Court also disregarded Rund’s attorney’s claims that the threats weren’t serious because they were posted on Twitter, and they also stated Rund’s remorse should not lessen the offense.
“We recognize that some users of social media may make more exaggerated or extravagant statements than they would in other contexts, and the forum certainly allows a user to post these types of statements, including a real threat, instantly without much deliberation,” the court wrote in their decision. “[However,] Rund did not send one misguided tweet; he tweeted five separate times, including a threat to use a grenade to kill police officers. He used Twitter to threaten multiple police officers simultaneously, which made his conduct more severe than a threat against a single person. He also used Twitter’s ‘mention’ mechanism to increase the likelihood that the targets of his threats would actually see them.”
The court vacated the original sentence and sent the case back to the district court where a new sentence is expected to put a felony on Rund’s record and brand him a terrorist in the eyes of the law.