Deputy suspended, prosecutors reviewing deadly police chase that killed innocent Fergus Falls couple | Grand Forks Herald

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  larry-hampton  •  one week ago  •  7 comments

By:   Grand Forks Herald

Deputy suspended, prosecutors reviewing deadly police chase that killed innocent Fergus Falls couple | Grand Forks Herald
The Clay County attorney, who is reviewing the case to avoid a conflict of interest, did not give a timeline for a decision.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — The chief of the Fergus Falls Police Department, Chief Kile Bergren, said his department spent the months gathering all the facts of the Oct. 2 crash in downtown Fergus Falls.

He would not say if they recommended any charges, or if the case was turned over to prosecutors for them to decide what charges could apply.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff says Deputy Michael Wing was suspended for 24 hours for his role in the failed ruse that led to the crash. The sheriff said he violated the department's pursuit policy. Deputy Wing has since returned to regular duty.

However, the status of the other deputy remains unclear. Since the crash, the sheriff's office has been open about the fact Deputy Kelly Backman was on paid administrative leave. Now, the sheriff says he cannot comment on his job status other than he is still an employee with the county.

"I think it would be an uphill battle for charges," said Luke Heck with Vogel Law Firm.

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Heck says prosecutors could be considering a wide variety of driving charges.

According to court papers, the deadly event started when deputies Wing and Backman lured 31-year-old Cody Frietag to a gas station in order to arrest him for outstanding warrants for domestic violence and drugs.


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Larry Hampton
Professor Guide
1  seeder  Larry Hampton    one week ago

Frietag allegedly hit Wing's cruiser and fled, then both deputies gave chase. Wing's cruiser broke down, and he dropped out of the chase.

Court papers say Backman was still in pursuit when Frietag ignored a stop sign in downtown Fergus Falls, and hit another car at a high rate of speed.

The crash killed 72-year-old Steve Christianson and his 71-year-old wife, Diane.

"Law enforcement, and rightly so, has a great deal of discretion based on the course and scope of their employment to not be Monday morning quarterbacked when making on the fly decision and snap decisions," explained Heck.

He says another reason charges are unlikely is due to the burden of proof. The deputies were just doing their jobs, and prosecutors will likely take a look at the case, putting themselves in uniform and behind the wheel of the situation that night.

"Understanding that criminal charges is going to deter law enforcement from enforcing the law for fear of criminal prosecution," explained Heck.

 
 
 
Larry Hampton
Professor Guide
2  seeder  Larry Hampton    one week ago

Charges: Sheriff's deputy was on drugs during high-speed chase in Fergus Falls that turned deadly

After the crash, investigators asked Backman and fellow Deputy Michael Wing to provide a voluntary blood sample, with Wing's coming back showing no alcohol or control substances in his system, the complaint states. 

Backman, however, refused to provide a voluntary blood sample. He did provide a preliminary breath test, which showed no alcohol, charges say. A blood sample was taken later, which was positive for Alprazolam, which he was prescribed, as well as 3.0 ng/mL of fentanyl and 1.7 ng/mL of nor-fentanyl.

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It was determined Backman was under the influence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl at the time he was operating his squad car, the complaint says. 

Investigators found some discrepancies involving Backman's work as a narcotics investigator, including him not logging drugs into evidence in two instances in August, charges say. 

Meanwhile, investigators conducted a search warrant on Backman's desk and lockers, where they found a large baggie of glass pipes and grinders, a small plastic vile that appeared to be empty. In a temporary evidence locker only Beckman had access to, investigators found a Pelican-style case with burned tinfoil, a small plastic bottle with a blue lid that contained a white powdery substance and a scale. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
PhD Guide
2.1  Tacos!  replied to  Larry Hampton @2    one week ago

Is anybody suggesting that the fentanyl in the cop's system was a factor in the crash? It doesn't seem like it would be.

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
Sophomore Principal
2.2  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)  replied to  Larry Hampton @2    one week ago
It was determined Backman was under the influence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl at the time he was operating his squad car, the complaint says. 

Investigators found some discrepancies involving Backman's work as a narcotics investigator, including him not logging drugs into evidence in two instances in August, charges say. 

Meanwhile, investigators conducted a search warrant on Backman's desk and lockers, where they found a large baggie of glass pipes and grinders, a small plastic vile that appeared to be empty. In a temporary evidence locker only Beckman had access to, investigators found a Pelican-style case with burned tinfoil, a small plastic bottle with a blue lid that contained a white powdery substance and a scale.

Absolutely appalling! In AUGUST there were signs of Backman being crooked, but no mention of an investigation or suspension during an investigation regarding missing narcotics? SERIOUSLY? 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3  Kavika     one week ago

Let me get this straight, Blackman is for lack of a better word is being ''protected'' even though he was on drugs (fentanyl) at the time that the suspect hit the other car and killed the two passengers. 

Is that correct?

 
 
 
Larry Hampton
Professor Guide
3.1  seeder  Larry Hampton  replied to  Kavika @3    one week ago

Sorry Kavika for the confusion. The article is from the end of January before they knew possibly exactly what was going on. My comment was an update on what they recently found out. What they did however know is that he refused the voluntary sample; that would have clues me in on something. I thought it interesting how the initial coverage mentioned few of the details that are now coming out. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Larry Hampton @3.1    one week ago
What they did however know is that he refused the voluntary sample; that would have clues me in on something. 

That certainly should have set off alarm bells. 

 
 
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