Eden Prairie police Wednesday identified the officer who said his gun accidentally fired, wounding a motorcyclist who had led officers on a chase.
Sgt. Lonnie Soppeland, who has worked for the department since 2005, was assigned to administrative duties while the incident is under investigation.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the report that the gun accidentally discharged. Until then, authorities declined to answer how or why the officer’s gun went off.
On Tuesday, the county attorney’s office charged Matthew Raymond Hovland-Knase, 21, of Bloomington, with fleeing police, a felony offense, after he led officers on a chase last Saturday. According to the criminal complaint, officers saw a motorcycle with Missouri plates speeding westbound on Valley View Road about 3 a.m. Saturday and tried to stop the motorcyclist, but the driver turned northbound on Eden Prairie Road against a red light and “accelerated at a high rate of speed.”
During the police pursuit, the motorcyclist wove from side to side, crossed the centerline and drove straight in a turn-only lane, reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour, according to the complaint. The chase ended in a residential area at Eden Prairie Road and South Lund Road, where Soppeland “accidentally discharged” his gun, striking Hovland-Knase’s left arm. In the complaint, officers said they detected alcohol on Hovland-Knase, but the results of a blood test are pending. He was hospitalized and taken to the Hennepin County jail.
In 2013, the most recent data released by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota law enforcement had 29 firearm discharge incidents, nine of which were either accidental discharges or happened when law enforcement officers weren’t firing at an individual.