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Officer punched by teen, police say


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A 17-year-old boy punched an off-duty officer Wednesday after he was caught breaking into the officer's pickup truck and stealing compact discs, Havre police said today.

Police arrested the Havre teen at 11 a.m. Thursday on charges of assault on a police officer, theft, criminal mischief and possession of drug paraphernalia, Police Chief Kevin Olson said.

All are misdemeanors except the assault charge.

The teen, who is being held in the Blaine County Juvenile Detention Center, had a hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. today in Hill County Juvenile Court.

After dining with his parents Wednesday night at Uncle Joe's steakhouse, police officer Jared Kuka walked outside and saw two young men standing near his Ford pickup in the parking lot, police Lt. George Tate said. Then Kuka noticed that the front passenger side window of his truck was broken. The young men started running and Kuka took after them, telling others in the parking lot to call 911, Tate said.

Kuka caught up to with one of the youths about two blocks from Uncle Joe's, Olson said. Kuka, 23, identified himself as an off-duty police officer and began escorting the boy back to the restaurant, Olson said.

The boy pulled away from him, twisted around and punched the first-year officer in the nose, Tate said.

Kuka, a 1997 graduate of Havre High School who joined the police department in November, may have suffered a broken nose in the incident. "He got hit hard enough that it's possible it's broken," Tate said.

That evening, Kuka received treatment at Northern Montana Hospital, and he has a follow-up appointment today, Tate said.

After the assault, the boy remained at the scene, and "verbal jousting" between the boy and Kuka ensued, Tate said. When police arrived, the juvenile was taken to the police department, where his parents picked him up, Tate said.

Officers found a marijuana pipe in his pocket while patting him down, Tate said.

He was not arrested Wednesday because "there was some confusion during the night as to what exactly happened," Tate said.

Tate said the suspects used a rock to break Kuka's window. The pickup sustained less than $1,000 worth of damage.

The second youth has not been identified, police said.


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