Police in Owatonna, Minnesota accuse a man found riding in a car as a passenger with drunk driving and assault after authorities fielded a call about an alleged erratic driver during the Memorial weekend holiday.
Officials claim that an officer responded to the area where the caller reported erratic driving to find a car matching the description. Police apparently followed the car until the driver made a left-hand turn that the officer believed violated traffic laws and pulled the car over.
Law enforcement says that a man sitting in the passenger seat of the car was acting in an unruly manner. Authorities claim that the man said that he had picked up the woman driving the car. Apparently, at some point, police contacted the original caller who claims that a man, who allegedly appeared drunk to the caller, had driven the car. The witness claims that the man moved into the passenger seat after picking up a woman.
The 23-year-old passenger was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired. Authorities claim that the man later submitted a urine sample at the Steele County Detention Center. However, the man is also facing a separate felony charge for an alleged assault on a police officer.
Officials claim that the man remained belligerent throughout the encounter with police. The arresting officer claims that while the man was being taken into the detention center, he turned and spat on the arresting officer.
The man was released from custody the following day with a court date scheduled for June 24.
Generally, an alleged fourth-degree assault on a peace officer begins as a gross misdemeanor level offense under Minnesota law. However, prosecutors can seek a felony level charge if the allegations involve demonstrable bodily harm inflicted by the alleged assault—or if police claim that a person has transferred bodily fluids or feces toward the officer. Spitting or throwing the body contents at or onto the officer may be sufficient to raise the allegations to a felony under the law.
Source: Owatonna People’s Press, “Owatonna man charged with assaulting police officer,” Al Strain May 28, 2013; Minnesota Statutes section 609.2231.