MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — A state law enforcement group is calling out Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty over her response to an incident where a man allegedly dragged an officer with his car.
According to a criminal complaint, on Nov. 13, a Maple Grove police officer conducted a traffic stop for tinted windows and failure to signal. During the interaction, the officer learned the driver's license was suspended.
The officer also reported seeing what appeared to be a finished alcohol container on the floor of the vehicle. At that point, he asked the driver to exit.
Dash camera footage shows the driver talking calmly to officers, even taking a breathalyzer test. But after two-and-a-half minutes, when an officer attempts to search him, he is seen running back to the driver's seat.
As another cruiser pulls up, the driver hits the gas, sending an officer to the ground, and dragging the other officer approximately 40 yards.
Daniel Rudolph, 40, of St. Louis Park, has been charged with two felonies for the incident — obstruction and fleeing a police officer.
But the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association says that's not enough.
"That video could have ended so differently," Imran Ali, General Counsel for MPPOA, said. "And it should give everyone a pause, really. And then we don't have any felony assault, no felony assault charge for the perpetrator that committed this act, this intentional act."
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office says there's no possible way to prove the incident was intentional.
"We are grateful the officer in this case escaped the incident with minor injuries. We fully recognize and appreciate the potential danger of the defendant's actions and that is why we charged him with two felonies for his conduct.
"As any prosecutor or defense attorney understands, we need evidence to support charges and prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately we are unable to rely on false characterizations of the facts by individuals from interest groups who don't have access to all the evidence in the case. The evidence here is the defendant fled from officers in a motor vehicle and caused injuries while interfering with the officer's duties. And we charged him with the most serious charges we were ethically able to charge based on the evidence.
"To prove assault, we would need to prove he intentionally used the car with the purpose of intentionally inflicting bodily harm. Not simply that bodily harm was caused by his actions or that he should have known the officer would be injured. And evidence that his purpose was to use the vehicle in that way isn't there."
"When an officer's arm is in the door and is trapped... And the intent of this individual, the defendant, is to flee, each foot that goes by is intent for some injury. We have 40 yards," Ali said. "This charging decision represents an alarming trend from the HCAO where violent offenders are not charged, or undercharged, with crimes. Minnesota law has long recognized vehicles being treated as weapons in these types of situations. It is alarming how police officers are treated differently than citizens in the eyes of the HCAO."
The Maple Grove Police Department says the officer who was dragged missed two weeks of work due to a shoulder injury and is still sore. Another officer suffered minor abrasions.
Rudolph, who has previously been convicted of armed robbery, could face five years or more in prison if convicted.
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