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Trial set for Moorhead police officer accused of assaulting handcuffed woman

Moorhead Police Officer Matthew Lambert appears at a hearing Wednesday, March 6, in Cass County District Court on a charge of assaulting a handcuffed woman in September. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor 1 / 2
Jennifer Joan Thomas2 / 2

FARGO — The case of a Moorhead police officer accused of assaulting a handcuffed woman is headed for trial this spring.

Officer Matthew Lambert is charged with a felony count of aggravated assault, according to documents filed in Cass County District Court.

The jury trial is slated for June 18. Lambert has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Lambert joined the Moorhead Police Department in 2012. He's currently on paid administrative leave pending a resolution in the court case.

On Sept. 9, Fargo police were called to Sanford Medical Center for a report of contact by bodily fluids. Officers were met by Lambert, who had brought 47-year-old Jennifer Joan Thomas to the hospital to be medically cleared, according to court documents.

Lambert, who's in his early 30s, told authorities Thomas stood up from her hospital bed at one point and spit in his face when he tried to get her to sit down, court documents said.

Lambert said he tackled Thomas onto the hospital bed and she appeared to strike her face on part of the bed, court documents stated.

An investigation later determined Lambert struck Thomas in the face with his elbow, court documents stated. Thomas suffered a fractured nasal bone and a bruise to her right eye.

Earlier that day, Thomas was arrested at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Moorhead after police responded to the restaurant for reports of a woman armed with a handgun and making suicidal comments.

The gun was determined to be a BB gun, and court documents show Thomas spit in an officer’s face while another officer was trying to place a seat belt around her in a squad car.

Thomas was found incompetent to assist in her own defense on felony charges of fourth-degree assault against a police officer and threats of violence. Her case is temporarily suspended and remains pending in Clay County District Court.