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Man charged with biting, kicking, pointing gun at officer during Waupaca protest

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News details the allegations against Matthew Banta.
Matthew Banta is charged with pointing a loaded gun at a Waupaca officer.
Matthew Banta is charged with pointing a loaded gun at a Waupaca officer.(Waupaca County Jail)
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 1:35 PM CDT
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WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Criminal charges have been filed against a 23-year-old man accused of pointing a loaded gun at an officer, as well as biting and kicking an officer, during a protest in Waupaca County.

Matthew Lee Banta is charged with:

  • 2nd Degree Recklessly Endangering, Use of a Dangerous Weapon (Point a loaded firearm at an officer)
  • Battery to a Law Enforcement Officer, Use of a Dangerous Weapon (Biting an officer)
  • Battery to a Law Enforcement Officer (Kicking an officer)
  • Resisting an Officer, Use of a Dangerous Weapon
  • Disorderly Conduct, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News details the allegations against Banta from an Aug. 1 protest. A Waupaca Police Officer responded to the Waupaca Library parking lot to speak with a group of protesters who had gathered there. They were planning to march in the streets.

The complaint says five people were open-carrying long guns. The officer asked them to stay out of the roadway and avoid stopping traffic. The officer said he handed them a copy of a city ordinance and asked for compliance.

About 40 minutes later, the officer received word that the protesters were marching down the middle of E. Fulton St and crossing over to W. Fulton St. The complaint states about 30 people were marching and they had vehicle escorts. The officer said he asked them to get off the street. The protesters moved over for a moment, and then moved back into the road, according to the complaint.

After several warnings, police started asking protesters for their identification. They did not comply, according to the complaint.

Officers came in contact with Matthew Banta. He was carrying a rifle and repeated the phrase: “is that what you call protecting and serving?”

An officer approached the group and asked them to get out of the street. Banta got in front of the officer and said, "You can do what you want, but we are going to continue to march." The officer said he told Banta that if he did not get out of the roadway, he would be arrested.

The officer reached for Banta’s left arm to attempt to arrest him. Banta stepped back and started down a ditch. The officer reached for Banta’s backpack. That’s when Banta “began raising his rifle.” Banta fell back and kicked at the officer, making contact with the officer’s legs. Banta tried standing and “he again began raising his rifle toward [VICTIM OFFICER],” reads the complaint. The officer said he feared for his life and those around him. The officer grabbed Banta by the shoulders and “threw him onto the ground and held him to the ground.”

“Banta was laying on his hands and the rifle was now underneath him,” reads the complaint. “Banta was then moving his hands around and as though he was trying to manipulate the gun.”

Police say they told Banta to get his hands off the gun. The crowd started screaming for police to get off Banta. The officer reached for Banta’s hand. Banta bit the officer in the right forearm, according to the complaint.

Police were able to secure Banta and put him in handcuffs.

Police say Banta’s rifle was loaded and a bullet was in the chamber. They found 117 rounds of ammunition on Banta. He was also carrying an eight-inch straight blade knife in a sheath on his belt, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 3, Banta made an initial court appearance . Cash bond was set at $10,000. Court records show bond was posted Tuesday.

Banta’s next court appearance is set for Aug. 11.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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