Cop indicted in road-rage incident during which other driver shot him in leg

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2007 - 12:05 AM

A Robbinsdale police officer was indicted for allegedly making terroristic threats during a confrontation in which the other driver shot him in the leg.

After being indicted Thursday for allegedly making terroristic threats during a road-rage incident last summer in Coon Rapids, a Robbinsdale police officer gave his side of what happened in the confrontation that left him with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Landen Beard, 27, was indicted in Anoka County District Court for allegedly threatening the other driver, who was charged Wednesday for his role in the confrontation.

"We were completely surprised" by the felony indictment, defense attorney Bill Michael said after the brief court hearing. "The facts as we know them don't warrant any charge."

Beard, an undercover narcotics officer, was immediately placed on paid leave. He declined to comment. He will plead not guilty and demand a jury trial, Michael said.

An Anoka County grand jury decided to indict both drivers involved in the incident after hearing testimony for two days.

On Wednesday, Martin Treptow, 35, was charged with making terroristic threats, as well as two other felonies: drive-by shooting and reckless discharge of a firearm. Treptow, who has a gun permit, said he shot Beard, without knowing he was an officer, to protect his wife and two children who were in his vehicle the afternoon of June 7.

Michael gave Beard's recollection of the incident:

Beard, in plain clothes, had stopped for lunch at his home in Coon Rapids in an unmarked police car. He was returning to work when he passed Treptow in a line of traffic on Woodcrest Drive heading south toward 99th Avenue.

Beard admitted passing illegally on the shoulder. Treptow got upset and tailgated Beard. The two vehicles traveled side-by side for several blocks and were waiting for a light when Treptow shot Beard with a slug that grazed his arm, his leg and then lodged in the other leg, breaking the femur bone.

When Beard saw Treptow's gun, he pulled his gun in self defense but couldn't return fire because Rebecca Treptow was sitting in the front passenger seat, blocking her husband.

Beard didn't identify himself as an officer until the shooting, Michael said. He said he was aware of no evidence supporting the terroristic threats charge, but admitted later he hadn't read police reports that he had just received in court.

Treptow's attorney, Kurt Glaser, who had reviewed police reports, said the account Michael gave was "inconsistent with independent witness statements." Michael said that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable.

Glaser produced copies of statements police took from several witnesses who were in cars or stores near the road-rage confrontation, and who testified before the grand jury last week.

A 19-year-old Anoka woman said she saw the man later identified as Beard driving next to another vehicle and leaning out his window as he repeatedly swore and threatened to kill the other driver, adding, "I don't care about jail."

Several witnesses said they saw Beard getting out of his car next to Treptow's SUV and then heard a shot and saw Beard fall back into his car.

A 50-year-old Blaine woman waiting in traffic behind Beard's maroon Monte Carlo said Beard was waving something that she couldn't identify in his hand as he began getting out. Then she heard a pop from Treptow's SUV and saw Beard fall back into his car, then to the ground. His car rolled into the back of a nearby pizza restaurant.

Glaser said no witness saw either man holding a gun or saw Beard aiming a gun after he was shot, which contradicts what Beard told police.

Treptow, who was a security business manager, has said he fired after Beard pointed a gun at him and his wife. Treptow drove away from the scene and called police minutes later to report the shooting near Foley Boulevard and Hwy. 10. Treptow was booked and released without bail Wednesday.

Beard also was released without bail Thursday and ordered to be booked at the jail within 24 hours. He is on paid administrative leave until the case is resolved, said Robbinsdale Police Chief Wayne Shellum.

"This is a serious charge," Shellum said.

Beard has had no discipline problems or complaints during his four years on the force, the chief said. He described Beard as a steady and reliable officer with good evaluations who "has done a good job for us."

If Beard, or any officer, is convicted of a felony, he would automatically lose his officer's license from the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, said executive director Neal Melton.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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