DULUTH – A police officer hung on for dear life as a 30-year-old man tried to drive away with his squad car last month, wrestling with the thief while his legs dangled out of the speeding vehicle.

Don Lee Hoven Jr., of Duluth, was charged last month with second- and third-degree counts of assault, felon in possession of a firearm and use of deadly force against Duluth officer Kaine Kaase.

What started as a routine call for Kaase in the early morning of April 23 turned into a wild and dangerous ride down an alley in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood thanks to a failed anti-theft mechanism, according to charges.

Kaase had parked his squad car to investigate reports of car tampering in someone’s front yard. He saw Hoven and a female who matched the descriptions he’d been given. Hoven darted behind a nearby garage and Kaase got out of his vehicle to speak with the woman.

According to charges, Kaase saw Hoven run toward his locked squad car and attempt to open it. As Kaase approached the would-be thief and the vehicle, the fob in his pocket unlocked the door automatically.

Hoven got into the driver’s seat, and Kaase dove in to stop him. Kaase “feared for his life” as the car accelerated and swerved, apparently trying to strike the officer’s legs as they hung out of the car, charges said.

The car hit a garage, setting off the air bags. Kaase continued to fight Hoven for control of the car and pulled out his Taser. The defendant got out of the vehicle, then jumped back in when Kaase got out to apprehend him.

The officer drew his weapon on Hoven, afraid that he would attempt to drive off again, charges said. Hoven eventually complied. Kaase required stitches in his hand.

According to charges, Hoven had a bullet in his possession, for which he faces additional charges because of an aggravated robbery conviction as a juvenile.

Hoven is slated to appear before a St. Louis County judge Tuesday. He faces charges in seven cases dating to July, including a felony count for causing great bodily harm to a man and killing a dog while driving a stolen car in September.

He was being held in the St. Louis County jail Wednesday in lieu of $40,000 bail.

“As we honor National Police Week, we feel very fortunate that one of our officers wasn’t severely injured or killed in a recent incident,” the Duluth Police Union wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday night. “We are extremely thankful that Officer Kaase has recovered and we are honored to have him as a member of our Police Union.”