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Assault by backhoe: Duluth construction company owner claims it was industrial accident

Mike Billman

A construction company owner who allegedly assaulted an employee with a backhoe bucket says the incident was an industrial accident that's been blown out of proportion.

Mike Billman, co-owner of Billman Construction, spent three days in jail after the Nov. 4 incident. He told Fox 21 the episode simply isn't like him.

Investigators say Billman told them he got angry with 24-year-old Matthew Paul Anderson after Anderson threw down a piece of equipment and argued with Billman about what he was doing.

According to court documents, he told police he was trying to use the excavator to nudge Anderson. But the bucket knocked Anderson to the ground and pinned him, tearing his pants and leaving him bleeding.

Anderson's father, who also works for Billman, came to the scene and took his son to the hospital.

Prosecutors are pursuing a charge of second-degree assault against Billman, with another court date set for later this month. If convicted, Billman could get seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.

Anderson is a part-time worker for Billman and has worked for Billman for two years.

Billman made headlines about seven years ago when he acquired a female tiger hybrid cub and fought to keep her against local ordinances. He still has the tiger.