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Duluth prosecutors will consider misdemeanor charge in altercation outside Trump rally

Hours after claiming that the victim did not wish to press charges, Duluth police said they would refer the case for possible prosecution.

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Duluth police sought the public's help in identifying a man who was involved in an altercation during President Donald Trump's visit to the city on Sept. 30. (Screenshot courtesy of Duluth Police Department)

The Duluth City Attorney's Office will consider filing a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge against a man captured on video knocking a phone out of a journalist's hand before President Donald Trump's rally in the city last week.

The Duluth Police Department said Tuesday that it would refer the case to city prosecutors to determine if a charge is warranted — an announcement that came hours after the agency initially said no charges would be filed.

Police initially said the victim, WCCO-TV photojournalist Dymanh Chhoun, did not wish to press charges. But Guy Still, an assignment editor at the Twin Cities station, said on Twitter that the Duluth police statement was "not congruent with reality."

"Expect an update," Still wrote. "We have been in contact with the PD & the victim this morning."

Police quickly followed with a statement that read: "After further discussion, the victim expressed the desire to move forward with seeking charges. We are forwarding the case to the City Attorney’s Office for review of misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. No other information is available at this time."

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The city of Duluth released its own statement later in the day, confirming the case was in the hands of prosecutors and indicating it "remains an active investigation and no additional information can be provided at this time." City spokesperson Kate Van Daele said an update is expected by the end of the week.

The incident happened near the intersection of Airport Road and Venture Avenue just before 6 p.m. Sept. 30, according to police. Protesters and supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had lined Airport Road to counter President Donald Trump's campaign rally at the airport .

According to WCCO , Chhoun had identified himself as a member of the press and was documenting a confrontation between a Trump supporter and a group of protesters when the man punched the phone out of Chhoun's hand.

“You guys want to be peaceful? Be peaceful! You want to be violent? Come to me and I'll —,” the man could be heard saying before throwing a punch.

The video ends with Chhoun picking up the phone and another Trump supporter approached him, yelling, while holding a Trump-Pence campaign sign to block his face. The group then backed off, WCCO said.

The photographer was not injured, and no property damage was reported, police said. The suspect had left the scene before police arrived, prompting investigators to publicly release video of the incident last week in an effort to identify the man.

The suspect's identity has not been released by police or the city.

This story was updated several times, most recently at 4:13 p.m. Oct. 6 with a statement from city officials. It was originally posted at 9:49 a.m. Oct. 6.

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