Woman acquitted in March chase
The passenger in a pickup that led law enforcement on a wild chase that ended with a state trooper firing three shots at the vehicle has been acquitted in the case.
Courtney Kay Archer, 24, was found not guilty in a court trial ruling by Olmsted County District Court Judge Pamela King.
Archer was charged with one count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, a felony, after the March 18 incident. She'd pleaded not guilty in October.
The man behind the wheel, David Ray Collier, 26, was convicted in June of the same count. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, stayed for three years, ordered to spend three months in jail and pay more than $18,000 in restitution.
The incident began at about 5:15 p.m. March 18, when an employee at Viking Lupient in Rochester saw a red pickup at a gas station in Oronoco. The man recognized the truck because he had worked on it, the report says. A call to his manager confirmed the truck had been stolen, so the man called law enforcement.
He followed the truck through Oronoco until he saw a squad car approach from the opposite direction, about a mile east of Oronoco, and activate its lights.
Collier, who was driving the stolen truck, accelerated about 10 to 15 mph when the trooper got behind him. Both Collier and Archer looked back at him, the trooper noted, but the truck didn't slow down.
According to the complaint, the truck was driven erratically on the wrong side of a roundabout into oncoming traffic. Stop sticks had been deployed, but the truck missed them by driving into the lane of oncoming cars.
Collier drove through the yard of a home, then into an RV dealership parking lot before accelerating to more than 80 mph when other law enforcement vehicles joined the pursuit. The chase continued onto gravel roads, with the truck weaving from one side of the road to another, despite driving on blind approaches through hills, the complaint says.
Eventually, the truck went over a fence, down into a ditch, back onto the roadway, over another fence and across a farm field. Two state patrol squad cars followed the pickup across the field and through yet another fence toward a paved road where other squads were waiting.
According to the reports, as one of the troopers approached the ditch in his vehicle, the truck turned 180 degrees — now facing the squad car. The two vehicles drove directly at each other "as the driver of the truck looked at (the trooper)," then collided head-on.
The trooper in the other squad car saw the collision and reportedly saw the truck attempting to back up, so he turned his squad car toward the right front tire of the truck for the impact. The force caused the squad car's airbag to deploy.
When the trooper was able to see past the bag, he watched the truck back up, then drive forward toward his now-disabled squad car, the complaint says. As the trooper tried to unfasten his seat belt, the truck approached his driver's side door, effectively trapping him inside.
The trooper pulled his handgun and fired a shot through his driver's side window, shattering it. He fired two more times at the truck, which stopped with its driver's side front tire against the driver's side of the squad car.
According to the criminal complaint, Collier admitted he didn't stop because he had a warrant, with "five years (prison) hanging over his head." He allegedly told officers his urine would show the presence of marijuana and methamphetamine.
Archer reportedly admitted that she encouraged Collier not to stop because she, too, had a warrant for her arrest from a previous case.