Unlawful Contact Charge Dropped After City Hall Altercation
The dismissal of an unlawful contact citation came as a great relief to the man accused of hitting the wife of the Casper city manager during an altercation on Tuesday.
"I was terrified of the experience," Sam Wiseman said at a news conference at the Parkway Plaza on Friday.
"It's hard to even imagine yourself as innocent when there's an avalanche of photographic pictures of your adversary glaring at you from out of the media," Wiseman said.
"You have to overcome that and you have to persevere, and believe that the system will work, which in this case it did," he said. "And it worked expeditiously and well and correctly."
On Tuesday, Cindy Patterson was in the audience during a sometimes contentious meeting. Her husband told K2 Radio that she stepped outside to the lobby to use the restroom. By the time she re-entered the lobby, a group of people who had objected to some of the council’s actions had left the meeting and were gathered there, John Patterson said.
She began taking pictures of the group.
While taking pictures, Wiseman allegedly got in her face. Cindy Patterson called her husband, who had briefly excused himself from the meeting and told him she was scared.
Wiseman was clutching some papers in his hand and allegedly hit her on the shoulder.
John Patterson came into council chambers and yelled that he could not believe what was happening in this city, that his wife had just been assaulted.
Thursday, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office cited Wiseman for unlawful contact, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $750 fine.
Friday, Wiseman said his attorney Tom Smith called him and told him the district attorney's office dismissed the charge.
Patterson did not return a call seeking comment about the dismissal of the charge.
Wiseman would not talk about the substance of what happened on Tuesday, other than to say he did not knew who Cindy Patterson was until that night.
Wiseman has been the long-time general secretary of the Jewish Community Association of Casper, and drew on his roots as a Jew with a German and Austrian heritage to put the incident in context.
Three days before the altercation, he said he saw "Woman in Gold," a movie starring Helen Mirren whose family from Vienna had been persecuted by the Nazis in 1938. The Nazis seized a painting by Gustav Klimt from Mirren's character's family that later belonged to Austria. She fought a famous legal battle to have it returned to her family.
"I must say that as well-behaved as the sheriff's office was in my case, the mere experience of seeing a police car come down your private road with its strobes blazing and its lights flashing is so reminiscent to any Jew looking at it of the way the Nazis behaved when they entered people's property, killed their pets and began to steal their property," he said.
"I couldn't sleep that night, even though the young man who represented the sheriff's office at 11:30 at night was perfectly well-behaved and nonthreatening," Wiseman said.
"The experience of being the object of being the object of being a criminal proceeding, which this was, is frightening to the extreme," he said. "I was frightened. My wife was frightened. I even think my dopey dogs were frightened. I'm grateful that the matter has been disposed of, and it's been disposed of with justice and fairness for all concerned."
Wiseman believes what happened was part of a general effort to stifle free speech and critics of the Casper's management. He lives outside the city limits, but has enjoyed attending meetings.
He's never spoken at a meeting, and after this week, he won't attend one again, either.
"I won't be there again," he said. "I've had it. I've learned my lesson."