RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- No charges will be filed concerning the New Year's day death of a Rhinelander man at a downtown Rhinelander bar.
Thursday afternoon, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek announced after gathering more than 23 interviews and autopsy evidence he would not charge 59 year old Gregory Dryden for the death of James Tanner.
Police were called to Sackett's Bar in downtown Rhinelander. Witnesses said Tanner had thrown a punch at another Rhinelander man, who hit the floor. Dryden was there as a disc jockey and left the area to restrain Tanner. Shiek said Dryden hugged Tanner and moved him toward the bar area. Tanner didn't get up. Tanner died in the ambulance outside the bar. An autopsy indicated Tanner's sternum had broken and a portion pierced his heart.
Schiek said in reviewing all the evidence, he felt there wasn't enough evidence to charge Dryden with second degree reckless homicide. "What we can gather from his statements and other witness statements was that he certainly wasn't trying to kill Mr. Tanner. What he was trying to do is break up a fight."
Schiek said Dryden wasn't sure what Tanner's next actions were going to be so he got involved. "When you look at those facts, the evidence doesn't even support, in my opinion, of a charge of reckless homicide."
Schiek was on the scene that night and surveyed where the incident happened. He said it was a "one in a million" chance that Tanner's sternum hit the bar in the way it did and Dryden had no intention of killing Tanner. Shiek said a final toxicology report is expected to come in a few days, but he said it wouldn't change the basic facts that have been discovered.