The Oneida County District Attorney has decided not to issue criminal charges regarding the incident that occurred at Sackett’s Bar on New Year’s Day. District Attorney, Michael Schiek, determined that the evidence he has received does not support criminal charges.
“I have had an opportunity to personally visit the scene, speak with responding officers, review all reports, along with witness statements, and review DVD recordings of interviews,” a press release from the DA’s office read. “I have met with Larry Mathein, Oneida County Medical Examiner, reviewed the preliminary autopsy report submitted by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Douglas Kelley, met with Rhinelander Police Chief Michael Steffes, Detective-Sergeant Joshua Chiamulera, and conferred with several prosecutors to discuss the investigation.”
The event in question occurred in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day at Sackett’s Bar in downtown Rhinelander.
James Tanner, 48, of Rhinelander, and John A. Klucarich, 62, of Rhinelander were having a “friendly” conversation when Tanner allegedly struck Klucarich in the face with a closed fist, sending him to the ground.
Seeing the incident, Gregory Dryden, 59, of Rhinelander, grabbed Tanner in what the District Attorney’s office described as a “bear hug” and drove Tanner into the bar area and then to the ground.
Paramedics were called but Tanner was declared dead at the scene. An autopsy found that Tanner died of a punctured heart as he broke his sternum and a piece of bone pierced his heart.
In the press release from the District Attorney’s office, the potential charges were discussed.
“There was a potential prosecution for second degree reckless homicide; however, that would require that Mr. Dryden be aware that his conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm. Again, witness statements do not support that conclusion. In addition, Mr. Dryden may have been privileged to intervene in defense of others, which is recognized as an affirmative defense in Wisconsin, pursuant to Section 939.48(4), Wis. Stats,” the release read. “After carefully considering all of this information, the evidence does not support criminal charges. The incident was a tragic set of events that led to the death of Mr. Tanner.”