Authorities on Monday were still piecing together what happened when a driver led Falcon Heights police on a high-speed pursuit that ended with the suspect’s vehicle crashing into a tree in St. Paul, killing the man.
A makeshift memorial marked the spot Monday where the driver, Ryan James Reeves, 32, of White Bear Lake, struck the tree while being pursued by police Sunday night.
Reeves had been the subject of a law enforcement pursuit previously and had warrants out for his arrest at the time of the crash, authorities said Monday. Meanwhile, his brother, Calvin Reeves, fluctuated between disbelief and grief as he remembered his brother, six years his senior.
“He wasn’t always the greatest role model. He made some mistakes, but he was also the funniest person I knew,” Calvin Reeves said. “He was a protector, a defender; he would’ve taken a bullet for anyone.”
The crash occurred about 8 p.m. near Hamline and Wynne avenues, according to authorities. Reeves was dead at the scene. His passenger, identified by police as Erica Alana Wood, 24, of St. Paul, suffered minor injuries.
A St. Anthony police officer pulled over Reeves’ car near Hamline Avenue and Hoyt Avenue in Falcon Heights for what a search warrant affidavit filed Monday in court revealed was a cracked windshield.
As the officer approached the stopped vehicle on foot, it took off “at a high rate of speed,” said a statement from St. Anthony police, which provides law enforcement for Falcon Heights.
The officer pursued the vehicle south on Hamline, and in less than a minute, the car veered off the road and hit a tree along the southwestern edge of Como Regional Park.
Police emergency scanner audio revealed one officer saying the car had reached speeds of 85 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone.
The State Patrol reconstructed the scene and was investigating the incident, along with St. Anthony police.
Police and court records reveal that Reeves had at the time of his death an outstanding Ramsey County felony warrant for fleeing police in a motor vehicle and an outstanding Scott County felony warrant for possession of an illicit drug.
Reeves also has not had a valid driver’s license since it was revoked in 2006.
His criminal history spans his entire adult life and includes convictions in various Twin Cities jurisdictions for fleeing police in a motor vehicle, auto theft, forgery, possession of a firearm by a felon, drug possession, criminal damage to property and domestic assault.
Calvin Reeves said the public perception of a troubled man with a lengthy rap sheet didn’t jibe with the Ryan that he knew. He said that Ryan Reeves’ life had hit a rough patch, but that he was trying to reassemble things and was thinking of checking himself into a treatment center. He left behind a teenage daughter, Calvin Reeves said.
“Every moment with him was memorable,” said Calvin Reeves, recalling childhood days playing video games and fishing.
On Monday morning, a woman who identified herself as Reeves’ cousin was at the crash scene tidying up a memorial of votive candles and balloons. All she would otherwise say was that his mother and sister were trying to come to grips with his death.
As she spoke, a man she identified as her husband combed through a community garden at the crash site, plucking pieces of wreckage from the earth and dropping them into a plastic bag. The couple carefully wrapped a ribbon of yellow crime scene tape around the memorial before walking away.