A 63-year-old Bellevue motorist accused of hitting a garbage collector with his SUV was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation.
Sarpy County District Judge Stefanie Martinez also removed alcohol monitoring for Dennis Stenner, who pleaded no contest in mid-June to third-degree assault. The charge carried a sentence of up to one year in jail.
The third-degree assault charge was amended from second-degree assault and the use of a weapon (his vehicle) to commit a felony.
Police said Stenner was angry because a Papillion Sanitation truck was blocking his Bellevue street last Oct. 16.
A man working nearby recorded the confrontation on his cellphone and shared it with police.
The garbage truck was stopped temporarily about 11:15 a.m. on South 34th Street near Looking Glass Drive as workers collected trash, police said.
Stenner stopped directly in front of the truck and began to argue. The video shows him backing up his SUV, then driving forward and striking the worker, who was knocked to the ground.
Papillion Sanitation employee Jesse J. Witzke, 27, suffered a minor injury but declined medical attention at the scene, police said.
Wednesday, Stenner told Martinez that he was backing up when his gearshift dropped into drive.
“It was totally an accident,” he said. “It freaked me out. I’m afraid to drive that car again.”
Stenner’s attorney, Michael Fitzpatrick, asked for probation, noting that “my client has absolutely no criminal record.”
He also said that Stenner’s wife has cancer and that Stenner drives her to treatments.
“He was in a dispute and it got out of hand,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was a one-time mistake.”
Tom Brantley, deputy Sarpy County attorney, said he agreed with the probation decision, mainly because there were no serious injuries.
“I don’t doubt that this was an accident,” Brantley said, “borne out of frustration rather than a lapse in judgment.”