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Thread: Officer indicted
02-22-2003, 06:34 #1hopefull_ins Guest
Hours after he testified before a Dakota County grand jury, an Apple Valley police officer was indicted Thursday on three misdemeanor charges in connection with a traffic collision in which a pregnant woman was fatally injured.
Katie Burg, 28, of Apple Valley gave birth to a boy, Jackson, before dying six days after the Oct. 26 crash. Her baby survived. Her husband, Russell L. Burg, 31, who was riding in the passenger seat, was hospitalized for about a month.
Officer Shane Mikkelson faces one count each of reckless driving, careless driving and inattentive driving. He was cleared of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm, both felonies.
The license of a police officer convicted of a felony would be revoked by the Peace Officer Training and Standards Board. Mikkelson also was cleared of a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm.
"It's fair to say that officer Mikkelson is relieved, but his relief is tempered with the sadness of this tragedy," said Dave Ayers, his attorney.
Burg said Thursday from his Apple Valley home that he was surprised that Mikkelson will face misdemeanor charges, but that he wished "no ill-will" to the four-year officer.
"I'm sure he's torn up over this," Burg said. "I'm sure he's having a tough time dealing with it. I just hope we can all get through this. I'm sure everything will come out even in the end."
Mikkelson, 28, was working a special shift as part of an Operation NightCap program, which focuses on drunken driving and traffic violations. A 17-year-old girl was riding in the squad car as part of a mentorship program and was bruised in the crash. Mikkelson suffered an ankle injury. Both were treated at a hospital and released the night of the crash.
Apple Valley Police Chief Scott Johnson said Mikkelson remains on paid administrative leave. The Dakota County Sheriff's Office will begin an investigation into the crash Monday to determine whether any policies were violated, Johnson said.
"The whole department is torn up over this tragedy," he said. "There's a husband left without a wife and a child that will grow up without his mother. We're just all saddened."
Mikkelson was traveling south on Cedar Avenue when he ran a license plate check on a vehicle and found that its owner's license had been revoked. He turned his emergency lights on and pursued the vehicle, reaching speeds of up to 80 miles per hour about a quarter-mile before the scene of the crash. About 300 feet before the intersection, Mikkelson turned on his emergency lights again and activated a device that controls stoplights.
"It takes several seconds for the signal to cycle through," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. "It doesn't happen simultaneously."
Mikkelson's squad car was traveling 59 mph when he entered the intersection of Galaxie Avenue and County Rd. 42, where he crashed into Burg's car, the State Patrol's report said. Witnesses said Mikkelson entered the intersection against the red light, swerved to avoid the Burgs' car and slowed, Backstrom said. The report revealed that the squad car was traveling about 50 mph when it hit the Burgs' car.
The report, prepared by State Patrol Lt. Robert Maskel, also said that neither weather nor road conditions contributed to the accident and that there were "no clear contributing factors" on Katie Burg's part. Investigators tried in vain on several occasions to reach the owner of the car that Mikkelsen was pursuing, Backstrom said.
Mikkelson pleaded not guilty Thursday and was released on his own recognizance. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 23.
Since the crash, students in the mentor program have not been allowed to ride in squad cars, Johnson said.
For Russ Burg, the days since the accident have been filled with rehabilitation for his injuries, in hopes he can return, at least part time, to his job as an operations manager at Wells Fargo Bank. He has also spent much of his time watching Jackson grow stronger. He said the boy is now almost 11 pounds.
02-22-2003, 09:40 #2
What State is Dakota County and Apple Valley in??DelC“You never know if quotes on the internet are genuine or not" . . . Abraham Lincoln
02-22-2003, 13:20 #3Originally posted by DelC
What State is Dakota County and Apple Valley in??"Last week I stated that this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister and now wish to withdraw that statement. "
02-22-2003, 14:58 #4
I would be interested to know what the Department's policy on vehicle pursuits is? Also, I don't understand why he would need to turn his lights on again? And have a device to control stop lights? It sounds like that is asking an awful lot of an officer to do while in a pursuit!! Granted I don't know a lot about the story, but it sounds like they were really trying to hang this officer out to dry!!
Last edited by try163; 02-22-2003 at 15:03.Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without constant endeavor, some pain, and the application of the lash of ambition. That's the price of success.
02-22-2003, 15:33 #5Originally posted by try163
Granted I don't know a lot about the story, but it sounds like they were really trying to hang this officer out to dry!!
02-22-2003, 21:50 #6Bite and Hold Moderator
- Join Date
- Nov 2000
In Apple Valley and Dakota County, as with most of metro Twin Cities, many of the interersections are controlled by opticoms. When running lights and siren, an opticom is also running which trigger a light mechanism at each controlled intersection. (Some squads can trigger this separately from your regular lights, and some are incorporated with the lights.) This mechanism turns the light green for the emergency vehicle and a red light for all other traffic. If I remember correctly (it seems like forever since I was using them), there is also a bright white light that is solid for oncoming traffic to the emergency vehicle and a blinking white light for cross traffic of the emergency vehicle. Basically a warning to other traffic that an emergency vehicle is coming through. As stated, this obviously does not occur right away as it has to give enough time for traffic to move through. While in a reserver academy class, they all stated that the opticom is coordinated so that if a pedestrian was in a crosswalk, they would have enough time to clear it if they were about halfway across. According to the article, it sounds like the officer turned off his lights for the pursuit, but still wanted to get through the intersection safely to keep up with the vehicle. In order to do this, an officer would have to turn on the opticom again to have the intersection clear. By no means does it rule out slowing down at an interesection and making sure it is clear. After running lights and siren in Wisconsin compared to in Minnesota, it was definetly A LOT safer with the opticom. Maybe this makes a little more sense when it states that he turned on his lights again to get through the intersection.
02-23-2003, 15:18 #7
I am aware that the responsibility is on the officer to drive with due regard to traffic, but much also has to do with the departments policy and particular state law. And I know that you are not allowed to run red lights, at least according to my depts policy. But as an emergency vehicle approaches it is the responsibility of all the other drivers to yield the right of way. I can't tell you how many times I have stopped for red lights while going to an emergency call and people with the green light continue through the intersection. Now if I hit them after stopping, am I still liable. I hope not. I firmly believe they have just as much responsibility to stop at that point as I do. This is something that could be debated for a long time.
Again I don't know the exact particulars of the case, but yes I would agree that going through a red light at 50-60 mph even with emergency lights activated would be reckless. I don't however understand the reasoning behind all the charges. If he was cleared of two felonies and one misdemeanor, is charging him with three other misdemeanors going to pan out? It would seem that the lesser charges may actually be components of the felony charges. Thus my point about hanging him. It just seems like they are trying to make something stick when he has already been cleared of the most serious of offenses, which given the article, he was probably charged properly.
And this opticom thing? If he was running lights and sirens it would be on anyway wouldn't it? I just don't get the need to turn off your lights anyway during a pursuit. It does not make sense. And IF there are these warning lights on the signals for other traffic, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude the warning might have been ignored by the other vehicle?
I am not sticking up for either side here, and it is certainly a tragedy and a lesson learned. We just have not heard the whole story.
TRY163Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without constant endeavor, some pain, and the application of the lash of ambition. That's the price of success.
02-24-2003, 10:32 #8Originally posted by try163
Now if I hit them after stopping, am I still liable. I hope not. I firmly believe they have just as much responsibility to stop at that point as I do. This is something that could be debated for a long time.
03-01-2003, 01:57 #9Striker Guest
Are you an officer right now? Are you serious that you do not know that it is your RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that the intersection is free of traffic before you proceed though EVEN WITH LIGHTS AND SIRENS. Damn what academy did you go to?
03-02-2003, 01:23 #10
Hey Striker, maybe you need to read the post clearly before you make a post of your own. What school did you go to??
Section 1104 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law states:
(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions herein stated:
(b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:
1. Stop, stand, or park irrespective of the provisions of this title
2. Proceed past a steady red signal, a flashing red signal, or a stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation
3. Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property
4. Disregard regulations governing directions of movement or turning in specified directions
The section also goes on to say without typing it all out that the foregoing provisions will not relieve the driver from the duty to drive with due regard or protect the driver from consequences of a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
Section 1144 of the V & T law: Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency vehicles
Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way and shall immediatedly drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, or to either edge of a one way roadway three or more lanes in width, clear of any intersection, and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
Yes we are required to drive with care....however it is also the responsibility of the motoring public, at least in New York, to yield the right of way regardless of whether they are driving lawfully or not. If we had to wait for everyone else, we would never get to where we have to go. Drivers can be cited in NY for failing to yield the right of way. 99.9% of the time you can't cite them because you are trying to get somewhere else.
I can't tell you how many times I have had to cross a double yellow line to get around traffic and drive in the opposite lane because there were rows of cars along each curb and a line of cars in front of me that had no where else to go. Does that mean that if the opposite lane is clear for a moment, it is ok for someone two blocks down to keep coming towards me in the opposite lane even though they may be travelling lawfully? Does that mean I am driving recklessly? Yeah, maybe if the five cars in front of me don't pull over and I decide to gun it, cross the double yellow, and drive straight at everyone coming the other way at 50mph. That is reckless. Same thing can be said for intersections. If I come up on an intersection against a red, and I stop, and several other cars around the intersection stop, then I go, and a car with the green behind a stopped car decides he is going to come around and cut me off and I hit him, I am liable? If he knows I am there, then I beg to differ. At that point, just because he has a green light would not give him the right of way. That is a big difference than just pulling up to an intersection, stopping, then going through and ramming someone who may be halfway through already.
Last edited by try163; 03-02-2003 at 01:30.Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without constant endeavor, some pain, and the application of the lash of ambition. That's the price of success.
03-02-2003, 03:57 #11Originally posted by nsedet
. . . if they are traveling lawfully in their lane and do not yield for one reason or another, then the responsibility should still fall on the officer, not the civilian. . .DelC“You never know if quotes on the internet are genuine or not" . . . Abraham Lincoln
03-02-2003, 14:49 #12Originally posted by DelC
Nay!! That's called, "fail to yield, to an emergency vehicle".
03-03-2003, 01:39 #13
Your point of view has one flaw in it. That flaw is stating that anyone driving lawfully has the right of way and SHOULD yield. I respectfully disagree. Anyone driving lawfully MUST yield and give up that right of way to the emergency vehicle. If I stop at a red light with my lights and sirens on and three cars with the green come by while I am sitting there, I think I could say that they failed to yield. There are several factors involved there such as time of day, weather, traffic volume, etc....but once you reach the head of the intersection most people would be pretty hard pressed not to see you.
Believe me, I do see your point. It is the officers responsibility to attempt to be seen and heard as much as possible to give people time to yield. I don't believe that because someone had the right of way and failed to yield that they would be less liable based on particular circumstances of the case.
Last edited by try163; 03-03-2003 at 01:45.
03-03-2003, 13:35 #14Originally posted by try163
Anyone driving lawfully MUST yield and give up that right of way to the emergency vehicle.
You are right under the traffic code, at least in the states I am familiar with, but it is a moot point when you talk about both safety and liability. Even the NYS law you cited above puts the responsibility back on the officer, even though the citizen is required to stop: "as may be necessary for safe operation." Guess what? If an accident happens, unless the citizen ran a red light or was completely negligent, the liability will fall on the EV operator. Saw it happen under NYS law when I was a volunteer firefighter back there, and seen the same issue in other states as well.
03-03-2003, 17:09 #15Paul E. Nunis Guest
Even where the law directs both parties to act so as to avoid such a situation, I think we can all see where the trained EV operator still has the greater responsibility.