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Duluth woman charged with assault on police officer over smoking

A Duluth woman who said she hated female police officers and carried two knives that she referred to as her "slicers and dicers" is accused of using or attempting to use deadly force against a female and male police officer and of three other crimes.

Leah Lynn Nelson

A Duluth woman who said she hated female police officers and carried two knives that she referred to as her "slicers and dicers" is accused of using or attempting to use deadly force against a female and male police officer and of three other crimes.

Leah Lynn Nelson, 37, was charged this afternoon in St. Louis County District Court with two counts of first-degree assault of a peace officer, as well as second- and third-degree assault.

Officer Laura Marquardt, an investigator in the Violent Crimes Unit, was working off duty for the Duluth Transit Authority on Saturday enforcing parking laws and issues related to bus travel when she was allegedly attacked by Nelson, sustaining a broken nose and possibly a broken facial bone beneath her eye.

Nelson is also accused of attempting to attack Officer Ethan Roe and a citizen with the two knives that she was carrying.

St. Louis County prosecutor Mark Rubin told Judge Mark Munger that Nelson's alleged attack on Marquardt in front of the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth was captured on surveillance video. He said that Nelson, without being provoked, punched Marquardt in the face, and kicked her in the groin, knocking her down with the officer's head striking the pavement.

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According to the criminal complaint:

Marquardt told Nelson she was in a no-smoking zone near a bus stop. The defendant responded by attacking the officer. As Marquardt lay on the ground, Nelson pulled a knife from her pocket, when a bystander, Cody Ronding, intervened to help the officer. Nelson then swung the knife toward Ronding.

Marquardt regained her feet and drew her service revolver. She ordered Nelson to drop the knife. When she refused to do so, backup officers arrived and shot the suspect with a Taser. She was not fazed. Additional officers arrived and ordered her to drop the knife. She then pulled a second knife and had a knife in each hand. The knives were described as having two finger grips on the handle with razor blades attached to each finger grip.

Nelson approached Roe while swinging the knives in an apparent attack on the officer. A second and third Taser shot was applied to the defendant before she finally dropped the knives. She was then tackled and taken into custody.

Rubin told Munger that Nelson is an extreme public safety threat with what appears to be mental health issues, and he asked the court to set bail at $150,000. Munger granted the request. The defendant is being held in the St. Louis County Jail. Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 5.

Nelson refused the services of a public defender when Munger asked her if she wanted an attorney. The defendant said she wanted to represent herself. She claimed that the officer attacked her. She said she carried no weapons and was only drinking coffee and smoking.

According to an investigator's report, Nelson's comments while being interviewed before being charged were at times indicative of possible mental health issues.

Duluth police public information Officer Brad Wick said Marquardt stopped into headquarters today. "She's still pretty sore. The back of her head is extremely sore, her nose is sore. ... Her ribs are sore from where she hit the ground."

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He said Marquardt hopes to return to work on Monday.

Related Topics: CRIMEPOLICE
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