According to a criminal complaint, Nelson kicked Kolstad in the head while Kolstad was lying on the ground early Sunday morning outside a bar in Mankato, Minn. Surveillance video showed Kolstad first struck Nelson in the back and then was hit in the head by another man, who police are trying to identify. Nelson then approached Kolstad on the ground.
The criminal complaint states that the dispute started when a bouncer at the Blue Bricks bar kissed Nelson's girlfriend's hand. Nelson became upset and possibly confused Kolstad for the bouncer when they were outside the bar.
According to Mankato Police Sgt. Jeff Knutson, who reviewed surveillance video of the incident, Kolstad appeared to spark the altercation when he "raised his arm and struck Nelson in the back area with the punch." The unknown man then struck Kolstad, who witnesses say was knocked out before Nelson allegedly kicked Kolstad's head "like a soccer ball." Steph Stassen, who witnessed the incident, told the Star Tribune that Kolstad was "unconscious after the first punch" and didn't brace himself as he fell to the ground, hitting his head.
Police released video of both Nelson and the unidentified suspect leaving the scene. Nelson told police he doesn't know the other man. He also said he didn't remember kicking Kolstad in the head.
The entire incident took only five to 10 seconds, according to police, but it left Kolstad with a fractured skull and a swollen brain, fighting for his life. Even if he survives, he could have some permanent brain damage. Kolstad is the father of a 3-year-old girl, and his wife is pregnant with their second child. Mankato's public safety director said Nelson and Kolstad knew each other from their high school football days in Mankato.
Nelson's attorney said Monday that his client wasn't the aggressor in the incident and that it isn't certain who caused Kolstad's injuries. A neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic told Mankato police that a combination of the punch and the kick could have caused the damage to Kolstad's head.
Nelson faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted of both felony assault charges. Patrick McDermott, the assistant Blue Earth County attorney, said, "You have some decisions that were made by some individuals that probably had some impaired thinking, and those decisions will affect many lives for years to come."
Nelson played at Minnesota the last two seasons, starting 16 games at quarterback, before transferring to Rutgers in January. He remains on the Rutgers roster, and Rutgers hasn't commented since releasing a short statement Sunday that it is gathering information on the incident.
An incredibly sad situation all around. More to come.