A man sitting in a car that was pulled over near Cloquet, Minn., reached out of the window and grabbed at the handgun of an officer assisting in the arrest of the unruly driver, but the weapon remained holstered.
Police said Tuesday that the passenger is fortunate the officer did not respond with lethal force during the roadside scuffle Friday night on the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation.
The 19-year-old driver, reported to be armed with a knife, and the 36-year-old passenger remain in the Carlton County jail pending charges expected Tuesday.
“Yeah, he’s very lucky,” said reservation officer Sheri Dupuis, whose department released a two-minute segment of video from the squad car’s dash camera that shows the arrests and the one suspect’s attempt to disarm one of the three officers arresting a physically uncooperative driver.
The officer who felt the tug on his sidearm responded by yanking the passenger out of the car, putting him to the ground facedown and handcuffing him. The driver was subdued by a different officer with a shot from a Taser gun.
Dupuis said that potentially lethal force by police could have been used once the passenger got his hand on the gun, but “it just depends on the situation. As an officer, I would never Monday morning quarterback another officer.”
The traffic stop was made about 7 p.m. when officers noticed the car was traveling in the 2500 block of Big Lake Road with its headlights off, Police Chief Jeremy Ojibway said in a statement that accompanied Monday’s posting of the dash cam video on Facebook.
“The occupants of the vehicle were uncooperative, and the driver would not give any identifying information,” the chief wrote. “Officers believed that the occupants were under the influence of some type of narcotic.”
The driver, ordered out from behind the wheel, started climbing through the window but “refused to finish exiting the vehicle, [and] officers had to physically remove him from the car.”
It was while the driver persisted in resisting arrest, Ojibway continued, that the passenger got his hand on the one officer’s gun holstered on his right hip.
Once they had the situation in hand, the officers searched the two men and a woman who also was in the car. The driver had on him a knife, and the woman a BB gun, the chief said.
Early on in the altercation, one officer injured his knee when he was pushed to the pavement by the driver and will be off-duty for a couple of weeks, Dupuis said.