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Trial set for July in Superior police altercation case

A trial date was set Wednesday for the Superior woman whose January arrest in the parking lot of Keyport Liquor sparked an investigation of a police officer’s use of force.

Natasha Nashai Lancour, 28, faces one count of disorderly conduct stemming from the incident. Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Thimm on Wednesday scheduled a two-day trial for Lancour beginning July 22. The amount of publicity the case has received could make jury selection difficult, he said. Lancour’s attorney Rick Gondik said a large number of witnesses also are expected, making a one-day trial unlikely.

A pretrial date was set to hear motions, including two already filed by District Attorney Dan Blank. He is moving to admit Lancour’s statements to police officers before the arrest and play only the first few seconds of video evidence from the arresting officer’s squad car. The rest of the video is a waste of time, possibly prejudicial to the state and irrelevant to the charge, Blank said.

“I think it would be an absolutely ridiculous distraction to the jury,” he told news media after the hearing.

The focus of the trial is on the Superior woman’s conduct before the arrest, Blank said, not the officer’s conduct as he made the arrest. That use of force by Superior Police Officer George Gothner, a 16-year veteran of the force, is under review by Bayfield District Attorney Fred Bourg.

“We finally got a trial date,” Gondik said of Wednesday’s hearing, noting the state “moved the goalposts” for his client in March.

The original complaint charged Lancour with battery to a peace officer and disorderly conduct. In February, the felony battery charge was amended to misdemeanor resisting an officer. The complaint was pared down to only the disorderly conduct in March, but the complaint encompassed more of Lancour’s actions before the arrest. Gondik said he plans to fight Blank’s motion to truncate the video, saying it should be admitted in its entirety or not at all.

Gondik filed a claim in April with the city of Superior seeking damages in excess of $50,000 on behalf of his client based on injuries received from the incident as well as anxiety, insomnia and symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder. He expected it to be rejected by the committee, but said a civil suit against the city could be forthcoming once the criminal case is wrapped up.