Former Viking Eller arrested after allegedly hitting cops

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2008 - 12:00 AM

Carl Eller became so violent that two Minneapolis police officers who arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving feared for their lives, Inspector Mike Martin said.

Former Minnesota Vikings great Carl Eller became so violent that two Minneapolis police officers who arrested him early this morning for suspicion of driving while intoxicated feared for their lives, said Inspector Mike Martin.

Eller, 66, hit officers Gil Antaya and Seth Porras in the faces several times and threatened to kill them. He also threw one of them onto the hood of his SUV during a scuffle that broke out in the garage of his north Minneapolis home where the officers caught up to him after a short  chase through the neighborhood, Martin said.

"They were in the fight of their lives," Martin said during a press conference. "They were in distress ...you could hear them screaming on the tape, 'We need another car here. We need help here.' '"

It took the arrival of at least three other officers to finally subdue Eller by placing him in a neck hold. Eller was booked into the Hennepin County Jail just after 2:15 a.m. and is being held on probable cause fourth-degree assault, fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and drunken driving, police said.

The case will be forwarded to the Hennepin County Attorney, who has until noon Thursday to file charges.

Antaya, a six-year veteran, experienced swelling to his nose and   below his eye. Porras, who has just under a year's service with Minneapolis police, suffered a scrape to his forehead and a broken blood vessel in his left eye. Both were treated at Hennepin County Medical Center and released, Martin said.

The events unfolded as Porras and Antaya  were on patrol at 12:57 a.m. at 8th and Russell Avenues North, less than a mile from Eller's Minneapolis home. The officers saw Eller swerve toward their squad and blow a stop sign. Eller then sped away through the neighborhood at speed in excess of 60 miles per hour, said Sgt. Jesse Garcia.

Eller pulled into his garage a few minutes later, but refused to step out of the vehicle and to take a alcohol breath test. Eller then became physically and verbally combative, threatening officers to the point that one officer used a Taser, but it had no impact on Eller.  A scuffle ensued and Eller threw one officer onto the hood of his SUV. That's when they called for help, Martin said.

It's not clear where Eller had been prior to the incident, but Martin characterized it as "a social engagement." Martin said anybody with information about Eller's whereabouts or behavior Tuesday night should contact Minneapolis Police.

Martin said Porras and Antaya were given Wednesday as a "rest" day and said they were shaken up about the incident.

"They are crushed," Martin said. "This was a guy who was a hero to many guys on the department," Martin said. "And now to have him put them in a position of defending themselves and having to arrest him. It's disappointing to the officers."

Eller, a former Gophers player who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had a brush with the law in 2006. He pled guilty to fourth-degree drunken driving after the State Patrol arrested him for going 97 miles per hour on westbound Interstate Hwy. 394 near Hwy. 100 on Feb. 28, 2006.

He was sentenced to five days of community service and two years' probation for that offense.

Eller was a standout player at the University of Minnesota where he was named an All-American. He was drafted by the Vikings in 1964 and became a member of the defensive line that was dubbed the "Purple People Eaters." Eller played in four Super Bowls with the Vikings and was inducted into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Eller is an admitted former substance abuser who became a drug counselor in Minneapolis.

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