Man acquitted of attempted murder files federal lawsuit

An Arkansas man who was once accused of attempted murder, but had his charges dismissed just before a jury trial was set to begin, is now the plaintiff in a federal trial against his accusers and the police officers involved.

Thomas Mashburn, Ward, Ark., was released from the Ward County Jail in Minot on Feb. 28. He had spent 542 days there pending a jury trial for attempted murder charges against Jay Rasberry stemming from a Sep. 5, 2011, altercation outside the Dakota Lounge where he was accused of cutting Rasberry’s throat with a serated knife.

Mashburn is returning to court, though, with charges seeking damages from 12 named defendants.

Five are those involved in the altercation, including Rasberry. The City of Minot, the Minot Police Department, and five officers within the department are also listed in the complaint.

Mashburn is represented by Kerry Rosenquist of the law firm Rosenquist & Arnason, PLLP, with offices in Grand Forks and Minot.

A summons of complaint for the charges was distributed to the defendants but was not filed in court, according to Rosenquist. He says that the defendants then filed the suit in federal court.

The complaint itself does not specify a specific venue and only mentions that “any court of competent jurisdiction is considered a proper venue” for the case.

Calls to prosecutors with the Ward County State’s Attorney’s Office, who prosecuted the initial case, were not returned Thursday.

The complaint covers the entire period between the altercation at the bar to Mashburn’s eventual dismissal and release from jail. Half of the 22-page complaint is titled “Background Facts” and makes specific allegations about what are seen as lies, misrepresentations and inconsistencies within the events of that night and how those involved presented the incident to police.

It also alleges “false arrest, malicious prosecution, and negligence against” the Minot Police Officers involved.

Mashburn seeks damages under the Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights, under the legal title of 42 U.S.C. 1983, which says that anyone who subjects another “to the deprivation of any rights … shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.”