Man faces charges in violent assault at 2800 block of Emerson

A 39-year-old man faces charges of assault and attempted criminal sexual conduct after allegedly tackling and choking a woman early Dec. 6 at the 2800 block of Emerson Ave. S. Police are investigating a similar sexual assault that occurred a few blocks away the same night.

According to the criminal complaint: Defendant Keith Eugene Washington approached a woman who was on the phone early Sunday morning, talking to her and following her for two blocks. He tackled her to the ground and choked her with his forearm and hands. The woman thought she was going to die before she blacked out, police said. Two adults walking on 28th Street heard muffled screams and asked if the woman was alright; the man replied “she’s fine.” The man pointed something at them and the witnesses fled across  the street, hiding behind a truck to call police. Police were dispatched shortly before 5 a.m. and discovered the woman lying unconscious in the grass with her breasts exposed and jeans unzipped.

According to the complaint: Police found the suspect who matched the 911 callers’ description a short time later walking on 28th Street, his pants and shoes covered in dirt. He was carrying the woman’s cell phone and ID. He also carried the cell phone and ID of a second woman who had been choked and sexually assaulted two hours earlier, a few blocks away.

“We believe Mr. Washington is a very dangerous man,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “He has a history of choking women until they are unconscious and it is just good fortune that he hasn’t killed one of them. The investigation is continuing and we may be able to bring charges based on other victims. Regardless, we will vigorously prosecute this case, and if successful, seek the longest possible prison sentence.”

Washington, a North Minneapolis resident, was previously convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2000 for choking a female acquaintance at her home and raping her, according to the complaint.

Washington was charged Tuesday with three counts of various types of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree assault. Prosecutors are seeking a $500,000 bail.