A 26-year-old felon was charged Wednesday with injuring a New Brighton police officer caught up in a car that the suspect drove into a retail outlet.
Jeffrey A. Paulson of Lino Lakes was charged in Ramsey County District Court with third-degree assault, injuring Officer Joseph Pyka while fleeing and first-degree property damage in connection with the encounter Monday afternoon at the intersection of W. County Road E and Silver Lake Road.
Paulson remains jailed in lieu of $45,000 bail before a court hearing on Sept. 2. Defense attorney Daniel Gonnerman said his client has pleaded not guilty and “is presumed innocent at this point.”
Two warrants are out for Paulson’s arrest in Hennepin County for unspecified crimes, and his criminal history also includes convictions for burglary and a weapons violation.
Police pointed out that Pyka was part of another dramatic incident just 35 hours earlier, when he woke the homeowners to a residential garage fire early Sunday so they could leave the blaze safely.
“We hope for a speedy recovery and complete healing so that Officer Pyka can continue to protect, serve and educate the New Brighton community,” a police statement read.
According to police and the criminal complaint:
Pyka stopped Paulson in the parking lot of Midwest Tobacco shortly after 2 p.m. for not displaying a license plate on a motorcycle Paulson was driving. He said he was on a test drive, then walked over to a car after being asked for his license.
After Paulson failed to produce any identification, Pyka attempted to remove him from the vehicle. But Paulson drove the car into the tobacco shop and a concrete pillar “while [the officer] was still tangled with the defendant inside of the vehicle,” the complaint read.
A woman with Paulson was sitting on a curb nearby and had to scramble out of the way of the car. Pyka freed himself from the vehicle, having suffered a broken wrist, before Paulson drove off.
Another police officer pursued Paulson, who two threw items out the car windows. One of the officers used his squad car to force Paulson’s vehicle to a stop less than 2 miles from the crash scene. The suspect ran, leaving a handgun near the car, and was soon captured.
Police said the motorcycle and the car had been reported stolen, meaning more charges against Paulson are possible.