WSU student pleads guilty to assaulting officers

June 17 – A Washington State University student pleaded guilty after being charged with assaulting multiple officers and harassing multiple women.

On Friday, 19-year-old Joseph Reising changed his plea in Whitman County Superior Court. He was arrested on campus on January 5 and charged with third-degree assault, two counts of fourth-degree assault, second-degree criminal trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

WSU police have been dispatched to Northside Residence Hall following a report of a man touching people and jumping into cars. When officers arrived, they saw a man identified as Reising approach them wearing a shoe, asking if they had a Taser, Senior Assistant District Attorney Tessa Scholl told the court.

Officers asked if they could speak to Reising, and he used an open hand to punch and push an officer in his chest, Scholl said. He began to back away, away from the officers, who were heading towards him, and Reising put his hand in an officer’s face, making pointing gestures.

An officer grabbed his right arm near the wrist and they moved Reising to a car parked near the building. Reising began to scream loudly and officers said it appeared he was under the influence of a drug, Scholl said.

The sergeant and EMS responded after Reising told police he had taken three acid pills and was looking for cocaine, Scholl said. As police tried to get Reising to sit down, he used his left leg to kick the officers. The police told Reising not to kick them, and using his right leg, he kicked the sergeant three times.

Police spoke with a man who was in the area at the time, and he said Reising was touching and pushing a woman. He attempted to draw Reising’s attention away from the woman, and Reising used an open palm to press his stomach back to the woman. Scholl said he told police it took his breath away and there were five to 10 women who were allegedly assaulted by Reising.

Scholl said several women told police they had been harassed by Reising, but only one victim contacted the prosecutor’s office.

The victim and her friend were driving their car on campus when they saw a group of women walking around who were approached by Reising. She told Scholl that Reising touched one of the women before they ran inside the building and he followed them.

The survivor stopped in Reising to ask if he was okay and he jumped into her vehicle without permission, Scholl said. Reising commented on her boobs and started reaching out to her. She grabbed the Taser she kept inside her car, pointed it at him, and told him he had to leave his vehicle immediately.

Reising jumped out of the car and the victim tried to lock the doors, but Reising did not fully close the door and was able to get inside. She and her friend got out of the car and Reising started following them. Her friend then called the police.

Reising was taken to hospital instead of being arrested and taken into custody.

Scholl said in court that this was Reising’s first offense and that it was a “one-off” situation, and that he is not a regular drug user. Since the incident, Reising has completed alcohol and drug information school, obtained a substance use assessment from the Palouse Recovery Center, and completed sexual harassment training at WSU.

Reising shared a few words in court.

“I sincerely apologize to the law enforcement officers I idolize for disrespecting them that day,” Reising said. “I apologize to the first responders, my classmates and my family to whom I have put so much through. I really never meant to hurt anyone. I made a mistake stupid thing that I will continue to regret for the rest of my life. I am ashamed and horrified that any version of myself could ever act that way.”

Whitman County Judge Gary Libey said the court was satisfied it was a one-time offense, but it was a very bad offense. He added that he knew Reising was crazy, but everyone is responsible, regardless of those factors.

Libey sentenced Reising to 12 months supervised probation and two weeks in jail. In addition, he must complete a substance use assessment and comply with the recommended treatment.

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