MOORHEAD, Minn. — A police officer in Clay County faces criminal charges after shooting a vehicle in late July during a high-speed pursuit.
Glyndon Police Officer Matthew James Tri, 35, is scheduled to appear Nov. 17 in Clay County District Court on a felony count of intentionally discharging a firearm that endangered the safety of another, as well as a misdemeanor count of reckless handling of a dangerous weapon.
Destiny Nicole Weaver, 21, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., also was charged in connection to the pursuit — fleeing police and driving while intoxicated. She has not entered a plea. Her next court appearance is Oct. 22.
The charges stem from a traffic stop that turned into a car chase in rural Clay County. According to court documents:
Tri attempted to pull over a vehicle with a burnt-out headlight before 1:30 a.m. July 22 at 90th Street South and Highway 10, just west of Glyndon. The officer tried to stop the vehicle, but it continued to flee.
Weaver’s vehicle, which hit 100 mph, eventually went into the ditch. Tri told investigators he got out of his vehicle with his gun drawn. He yelled at Weaver to exit her car as he went into the ditch.
At this point, his vehicle was facing south on the road and Weaver's was pointed north in the ditch.
Tri said Weaver’s car came at him, so he fired two shots, including one that hit the rear driver-side tire. He then went back to his vehicle and pursued Weaver until she went into a field.
That’s where she and a passenger were arrested, with the assistance of a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy, according to court documents.
No one was injured, authorities said.
A preliminary field sobriety test showed Weaver had a blood alcohol level of .028% when she was arrested, which is below the legal limit. When authorities obtained a search warrant to collect a blood or urine sample, Weaver refused the test, according to a criminal complaint filed against her in July.
The passenger of Weaver’s vehicle said they went into the ditch and were parked when they heard gunshots, according to a criminal complaint filed against Tri on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Then Weaver drove away, not toward Tri, according to the passenger.
Tri said he could not recall several details of the shooting, including how far into the ditch he went, how close the vehicle came to him or what he was aiming at.
A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent who reviewed squad vehicle footage of the incident said Tri fired his first shot five seconds after leaving his car and returned to his vehicle after another five seconds, the complaint said.
That would make it impossible for Tri to be in the line of travel of Weaver’s vehicle, the agent said in court documents. Other evidence included bullet casings, tire marks and foot tracks that apparently belonged to Tri, the complaint said.
An analysis suggested Tri was not in front of Weaver's vehicle when he fired his weapon but was to the side of the suspect's driver side.
At the time of the incident, Tri had been with the Glyndon Police Department for 15 months. He was put on administrative leave after the shooting.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the Clay County Attorney's Office requested that Otter Tail County Attorney Michelle Eldien review the case for potential prosecution.
A summons to appear in court was sent to Tri. Court records did not list an attorney for the officer.
A woman who answered a phone call from Forum News Service said "no comment" when a reporter asked if the number listed for Tri was correct.
Glyndon Police Chief Justin Vogel was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Readers can reach reporter April Baumgarten at 701-241-5417 or follow her on Twitter @aprilbaumsaway.