ST. PAUL -- A man has died in what may have been a suicide after fleeing police over 35 miles through two counties Friday night, March 5.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher captured the tail-end of the chase around midnight in North St. Paul on his “Live on Patrol” livestream on Facebook.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner will make the final determination in cause of death. The driver’s name has not been released.
According to Fletcher, police in Maple Plain, a suburb west of Minneapolis, attempted to pull the man over for speeding and driving erratically. The man continued driving, passing through multiple law enforcement jurisdictions before being stopped with a PIT maneuver by a Ramsey County sheriff deputy in North St. Paul.
When Fletcher joined, the officers and the suspect were traveling about 75 mph east on Highway 36. A Ramsey County K-9 unit also joined as a precaution in case the man chose to flee on foot.
The man eventually exited the highway at North McKnight Road. Police followed and bumped him with a squad car, causing him to slow down enough to be surrounded by police cars.
Fletcher, who was on the scene, said two shots were fired from the driver’s seat apparently toward the squad car through the right side of the front windshield. No officers were hit.
As officers approached, the man appeared to be unconscious from a head wound. Police suspect he shot himself due to a third spent casing found in the vehicle. Also, the PIT maneuver did minimal damage to the car which had slowed considerably after exiting the highway, causing officers to doubt the injury was from any impact.
Two small-caliber guns were also found in the car. No officers used deadly force, Fletcher said.
Police attempted life-saving measures on the man. He was taken by ambulance to a Ramsey County hospital where he later died.
“Traffic stops are one of the most dangerous aspects of law enforcement,” Fletcher said. “These things can evolve so quickly. There’s a lot of what-ifs that turned out OK in this case for the officers.”