If there’s anything to be learned from Kenny Meinders’ fate, according to John Huschen, it’s this:
Heed the police.
“Simple compliance would have avoided the entire problem,” said Huschen, a Woodford County Circuit Court judge.
Huschen spoke Friday just before he sentenced Meinders to 40 months in prison for various felony and misdemeanor convictions related to his confrontation with police last year at a Lowpoint residence.
The sentencing came exactly six weeks after a Woodford County jury found the Metamora resident guilty of disarming a police officer, aggravated battery of a police officer, resisting a police officer and domestic battery of his girlfriend. Meinders was acquitted of two other charges.
“Society needs individuals to obey the police,” Huschen told Meinders and about 25 others gathered just before noon in a second-story courtroom at the Woodford County Public Safety Facility.
“If this were a regular occurrence, the streets of our society would be in chaos,” Huschen said. “The courts would be flooded with cases. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated.”
Not long thereafter, two Woodford County Sheriff’s Department deputies led away Meinders, clad in a dark, striped shirt and black slacks. He is to be held at the Peoria County Jail until his transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger.
The state’s attorney requested the Peoria County move to ensure Meinders wouldn’t encounter Woodford County officers involved in the confrontation on Aug. 21, 2011.
One of Meinders’ attorneys, Shaun Cusack, said he plans to appeal the verdict. He also anticipates civil litigation.
“We’re behind our client, and we will be until the end,” said Cusack, who requested probation for Meinders. “The entire deal is completely contrary to our client’s character.”
Before the sentencing, Meinders read in court a statement that expressed regret about the confrontation, which resulted in his hospitalization for almost a month in Peoria.
“What happened is not the behavior I’ve ever displayed,” Meinders said. “It makes me sad that this has caused problems. Not only does it affect me, but the people close to me.”
Officers’ Tasers were activated at least 24 times during the fight inside the Jeremiah West residence. Officers testified the electric jolts had no effect on a combative Meinders, but defense witnesses stated he was a motionless punching bag.
As he did during the trial, Meinders stated he could not recall what happened that early Sunday morning.
Minger suggested alcohol and cocaine use played a role. Both were found in Meinders’ system after he arrived at the hospital, Minger said.
He also cited an order of protection issued in 2010 against Meinders.
“It shows a history of this kind of abuse,” Minger said.
Meinders is to serve concurrently the sentences that ranged from 40 months to 364 days on the four convictions, Huschen said. With good behavior, Meinders could be released from prison in 20 months, Minger said.
Meinders could have received as much as seven years in prison. Tim Moore, president of a Peoria roofing company where Meinders has worked for 14 years, asked the court for leniency.
“I think he’s a good, honest guy,” Moore said on the witness stand. “It’s kind of a tragic situation, and we hope it comes to a good end.”