A man who allegedly struck a St. Paul police officer while fleeing a traffic stop in a stolen vehicle has been charged with first-degree assault using deadly force against a peace officer.
Salvador Tomas Torres Garza, 19, struck an officer as he drove off in a Dodge Journey from an alley near the intersection of Winter Street and N. Capitol Boulevard about 2 a.m. Tuesday. The officer’s partner fired multiple rounds into the vehicle as Garza sped off, according to the charges filed in Ramsey County District Court.
Police later found the Journey abandoned on 700 block of Prior Avenue. They did not find any blood inside the vehicle, indicating Garza had not been shot, the complaint said.
Garza was still on the run as of Wednesday afternoon, St. Paul police said. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
Police have been looking for Garza since he failed to appear in court on previous charges of auto theft and burglary, including thefts in June at the Minnesota Transportation Museum and Minuteman Auto Sales. Garza also was suspected of stealing cars from several other auto-related businesses, the complaint said.
Officers on patrol saw the Dodge Journey that had been stolen from one of the businesses Aug. 10 or 11 parked in an alley. The officers approached Garza. One of the officers directed Garza to get out of the vehicle, but he “accelerated the vehicle rapidly toward the other officer, who was struck by the vehicle and ended up on the hood,” the complaint read.
The officer landed on the hood before bouncing off, but he was not seriously hurt. The other officer, seeing his partner struck, fired multiple rounds into the vehicle, the complaint said.
The officers who were involved in the incident were wearing body cameras, police spokesman Steve Linders said. The footage will be used by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the incident.
The officers were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such cases.