No charges will be filed concerning the New Year’s day death of a Rhinelander man at a downtown Rhinelander bar.

Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek announced on Thursday after gathering more than 23 interviews and autopsy evidence he would not charge 59-year-old Gregory Dryden for the death of James Tanner. Schiek said he felt there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Dryden with second-degree reckless homicide. “What we can gather from his statements and other witness statements was that he certainly wasn’t trying to kill Mr. Tanner. What he was trying to do is break up a fight.” Shiek added, “When you look at those facts, the evidence does not support even a charge, in my opinion, of reckless homicide…”

Police were called to Sackett’s Bar in downtown Rhinelander. Witnesses said Tanner had thrown a punch at another Rhinelander man, who hit the floor. Dryden was there as a disc jockey. He attempted to restrain Tanner. Shiek said Dryden hugged Tanner and moved him toward the bar area. Tanner didn’t get up. Tanner died in the ambulance outside the bar. An autopsy indicated Tanner’s sternum had broken and a portion pierced his heart.

Shiek said it was a “one in a million” chance that Tanner’s sternum hit the bar in the way it did and Dryden had no intention of killing Tanner. He said a final toxicology report is expected to come in a few days, but he said it wouldn’t change the basic facts that have been discovered.

Ken Krall, WXPR

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