Downtown assault racially motivated
The color of a man’s skin was apparently the motivation behind a brutal attack early Sunday in downtown Brainerd.
Criminal complaints filed Tuesday in Crow Wing County District Court said the victim, Willie Navy, 53, Brainerd, and the two suspects in the assault, Lucas Eastwood and Travis Campbell, were at Yesterday’s Gone late Saturday when an employee at the bar heard Eastwood say he wanted to assault Navy because Navy was black and Eastwood wanted to fight that night.
Outside of the bar after it closed, Navy was struck and kicked repeatedly in the head by the suspects, witnesses told police. Navy is in the Intensive Care Unit at Essentia Health’s St. Joseph’s Medical Center, where Tuesday he was reported in stable condition.
Speaking with doctors at the hospital, officers learned Navy is in jeopardy of losing his vision because of multiple orbital fractures around his eye socket. Navy’s eye is protruded and the facial injuries will require multiple surgeries to repair.
Eastwood, 27, Backus, was charged Tuesday in Crow Wing County District Court with felony first-degree assault, felony kidnapping to facilitate a felony or flight, felony third-degree assault and gross misdemeanor fourth-degree assault motivated by bias.
Travis Arnold Campbell, 29, Pequot Lakes, was charged Tuesday with felony first-degree assault, felony third-degree assault and gross misdemeanor fourth-degree assault motivated by bias.
Eastwood and Campbell are being held in the Crow Wing County Jail on $100,000 bond or bail without conditions or $50,000 bond or bail with conditions. Their next court appearances are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 15.
Brainerd Police Deputy Chief Mike Bestul said though criminal complaints have been filed the investigation into Navy’s assault continues because they haven’t been able to conduct a formal interview with Navy.
“We’re allowing time for the victim to recover and hopefully he’ll be able to answer more questions and clear some things up,” Bestul said. “Right now we’re going off what witnesses are saying and what we learned through the investigation.”
Alcohol was involved, Bestul said.
According to the criminal complaints filed against Eastwood and Campbell:
• At 1:24 a.m. Sunday officers responded to the sidewalk in front of Thrifty White Pharmacy, 800 Laurel St., for a report of a man that had been assaulted. Officers arrived and found two women attending to a black man with obvious severe head and facial injuries. An ambulance was requested and officers started first aid.
• The man, Willie Navy, was mostly incoherent and in a lot of pain. The woman said Navy had been assaulted by two white men and when the women approached and yelled at the suspects to stop they went west on Laurel Street. Witnesses identified Eastwood as one of the men that assaulted Navy.
• While officers and an ambulance crew were attending to Navy, an employee from Yesterday’s Gone arrived and told officers that a man later identified as Eastwood had wanted to assault Navy in the bar right before the bar closed because Navy was black and Navy wanted to fight. The employee told Eastwood not to start anything in the bar. The employee told investigators that Eastwood wanted to fight with that “(expletive) black guy” because he was in Yesterday’s Gone. The employee told Eastwood not to assault anyone. The employee said he then got busy with last call and closing the bar.
• The bar employee said Navy was the last one to leave at 1:20 a.m. Sunday. He identified Eastwood and Campbell by what they were wearing and witnesses identified the two men as having assaulted Navy. It was learned Eastwood and Campbell were with another man who lives on the 200 block of South Seventh Street.
• Officers went to the residence on South Seventh Street and could hear arguing inside about opening the door for law enforcement officers. Eventually the door was opened and officers saw the resident had a fresh mouth injury.
• An officer spoke with the resident, who said Eastwood had punched him in the mouth when the resident attempted to open the door for officers. He said Eastwood also physically prevented anyone from leaving the apartment.
Eastwood’s criminal history in Minnesota shows multiple misdemeanor charges for traffic, alcohol and marijuana offenses since 2002.
Campbell’s criminal history in Minnesota includes charges for misdemeanor traffic offenses, various alcohol offenses, misdemeanor theft, disorderly conduct, fifth-degree domestic assault and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree assault since 2001.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.