An intoxicated woman who allegedly kicked an EMT is among the 11 Minnesotans and North Dakotans charged in the past week with violating Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 executive orders.
A total of 44 people have been charged between March and Tuesday morning with violating Walz’s orders to stay home or for restaurants and bars to cease dine-in service.
Following a trend from previous cases that has been criticized by some rights advocates, six of the new offenses were tacked onto cases that originated as other alleged crimes.
Those additional charges — all misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors — included speeding, trespassing, and fifth-degree assault.
“The governor’s order forbids neither walking nor driving. … So tacking on violations to other driving charges is disturbing,” said Michael Friedman, executive director of the Legal Rights Center.
Some previous cases included felony charges such as drug offenses. Earlier this month, Oakdale police cited the hosts of a biker party and a birthday party.
The organization has encouraged education over criminalization, as has Walz and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Five of the new cases had no additional charges.
Walz’s stay-home order went into effect March 27 and expires May 4. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, nearly 2,700 suspected violations across the state have been reported between March 30 and April 26 through a hotline and e-mail.
About 40% reported that social distancing was not observed.
About 25% alleged that a nonessential business was operating.
Local agencies are notified about reported violations, said DPS spokesman Bruce Gordon.
The new cases are:
• An Austin, Minn., woman was charged in Murray County with the violation and one count each of obstructing ambulance personnel, disorderly conduct, obstructing the legal process and fifth-degree assault.
According to the complaint, she was “extremely belligerent” to the deputy and ambulance staff at the scene, admitted to drug and alcohol use and urinated in a deputy’s squad.
Friedman said the order violation charge could be “slapped on as retaliatory for the indignities the police allegedly experienced in trying to get this person medical and mental health assistance.”
• Blaine police cited a woman for the violation and trespassing.
• Lino Lakes police cited a Lexington man for the violation.
• A Minneapolis man was cited in Minnetonka for the violation and for allegedly using a fictitious name on a driver’s license and a fictitious or altered driver’s license.
• The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office cited a Barnesville, Minn., man for the violation and trespassing, and three other men, one from Pelican Rapids and two others from North Dakota, for the violation.
• A St. Paul man was cited by North St. Paul police when an officer saw him driving 10 mph over the speed limit in a 30 mph zone.
He also allegedly drove across the centerline. He was also cited for driving after revocation, speeding and having no insurance.
• An 18-year-old Little Canada woman was cited by Woodbury police for the violation, driving outside the hours allowed on her provisional driver’s license and careless driving.
• Oakdale police cited an Afton man for the violation.