Student arrested on suspicion of assaulting MU police officer

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | 5:14 p.m. CST; updated 6:39 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 18, 2009

COLUMBIA — An MU student was arrested early Sunday on Francis Quadrangle after a short foot chase by an MU police officer. The suspect is accused of assaulting the officer.

James Nelson Guirl, 21, who lives in Schurz Hall, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault of a police officer, resisting arrest and second-degree sexual misconduct. Guirl is an MU senior.

MU Police Chief Jack Watring said that at about 1:20 a.m. Sunday, there was a call made from an emergency phone near the northwest corner of Jesse Hall in which a female was screaming, “Send the police.”

Watring said an officer arrived at Jesse Hall within two minutes and did not find a female. Searching the area, he encountered four males and one female heading south through the quadrangle.

The officer saw two males — one of them identified as Guirl — climb onto the concrete base of one of the pillars of the MU Columns and begin to urinate on the landmark, Watring said.

According to Watring, the officer approached the group, and the two males fled. The officer pursued them and caught up to Guirl a few times, but the officer said Guirl kept slipping away. The officer restrained Guirl on the ground and prepared to place him in handcuffs, but the suspect turned around and “purposefully” elbowed the officer in the face, Watring said.  

The final time the officer caught up to Guirl, the officer used pepper spray and took him into custody.

Watring said the officer reported Guirl was intoxicated during the incident. The report did not indicate if the officer sought medical assistance.

Guirl was held on $1,500 bond and was released later Sunday after the bond was paid, according to the Boone County Jail.

Guirl declined to comment on the incident Wednesday afternoon.

Watring said it was unlikely that Guirl or anyone else in the group placed the false emergency call, because they had entered the Francis Quadrangle from the northeast, through the archway by Walter Williams Hall.

Watring said, while it is not uncommon for false calls to come in from campus emergency, the devices are still “handy” in case a victim has lost or does not own a cell phone and is in need of assistance.

“You never know when it’s going to be one the legitimate calls where someone needs help,” Watring said.

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