HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. – The office of the Hennepin County attorney under Mary Moriarty has once again come under fire — this time by the state’s police association as well as a state senator because of her office’s decision not to file an assault charge against a repeat felon for dragging a Maple Grove police officer with a vehicle last month.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) released a statement on Wednesday condemning Moriarty’s office for “an alarming trend from the HCAO where violent offenders are not charged, or [are] under charged, with crimes.”
MEDIA RELEASE: Maple Grove police officer dragged 40 yards by repeat felon, yet Hennepin Co. Attorney’s Office declines to charge as assault on police officer pic.twitter.com/UIkQauEnB3
— Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (@MNPoliceAssn) December 6, 2023
According to the statement released by MPPOA, Maple Grove Officer Brandon Gross and his police officer partner executed a traffic stop Nov. 13 that ended with the suspect, Daniel Rudolph of St. Louis Park, pinning the officer’s arm between the suspect’s body and the driver’s seat, causing Officer Gross to be dragged for approximately 40 yards. The suspect said, “I got you! I got you!” and then a few seconds later he accelerated the vehicle and tried shutting the door on the officer while he was dragging him, according to the statement. During the dragging, the suspect extinguished his headlights, along with other factors that indicate he knew Officer Gross was being dragged, the statement said.
MPPOA General Counsel Imran Ali, who is also a former Washington County prosecutor, said, “A repeat felon used his vehicle as a weapon and dragged a police officer 40 yards. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) declined to charge this as an assault, even though the evidence and probable cause exists.”
Ali said via the statement that Minnesota law has long recognized vehicles being treated as weapons in these types of situations. “It is alarming how police officers are treated differently than citizens in the eyes of the HCAO,” he said.
Officer Gross sustained an injury to his shoulder that kept him out of work for over two weeks. He is medically cleared to return to work but has lingering pain and swollen/inflamed ligaments in his shoulder from being dragged, the MPPOA statement said.
The Hennepin County attorney assigned to the case declined second-degree assault charges and instead charged the suspect with fleeing police and felony obstruction, according to the statement. Court records list the prosecutor in charge of the case as Sarah Yacoub.
Maple Grove Police Chief Eric Werner asked for a review and a senior attorney declined as well, the MPPOA statement said.
The complaint states that Rudolph was pulled over for failure to signal and for tinted windows. Upon speaking with the driver and passenger, officers observed what appeared to be an empty liquor container in the vehicle and learned that Rudolph had a suspended license.
Police dashcam video posted by CCX Media on Wednesday shows officers interacting outside the vehicle with Rudolph during the traffic stop when he suddenly breaks free and runs for the driver’s seat. Two officers can be seen struggling with the driver from outside the vehicle. One officer falls away as the vehicle takes off, and Officer Gross can be seen being dragged by the vehicle.
KARE 11 posted a statement obtained from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in response to the allegation of lax charging, which indicated they didn’t think there was enough evidence to prove it was intentional:
“We are grateful the officer in this case escaped the incident with minor injuries. We fully recognize and appreciate the potential danger of the defendant’s actions and that is why we charged him with two felonies for his conduct.
As any prosecutor or defense attorney understands, we need evidence to support charges and prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately we are unable to rely on false characterizations of the facts by individuals from interest groups who don’t have access to all the evidence in the case. The evidence here is the defendant fled from officers in a motor vehicle and caused injuries while interfering with the officer’s duties. And we charged him with the most serious charges we were ethically able to charge based on the evidence.”
Minnesota Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, issued a statement Wednesday stating, “I am appalled!” after learning of the decision by the HCAO not to file an assault charge.
Sen. Limmer further stated:
“It is troubling to witness a continued pattern of dereliction of responsibility by Hennepin County Attorney Moriarty, especially when it involves the assault of a repeat felon on our law enforcement officers. It’s another terrible example of poor judgement that I fear will encourage not only more criminal activity, but more attacks on law enforcement.
I understand Officer Gross is recovering from the attack and I wish to personally thank him for his service to our community.”
After fleeing, Rudolph was ultimately arrested the following day, Nov. 14, at the residence of an associate, the complaint states.
Rudolph was granted a public defender at his initial court appearance and was released the following day after posting $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 14.
According to the criminal complaint, Rudolph has a history of felony crimes in Cook County, Ill., that includes armed robbery and armed habitual criminal.
Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.
This article originally appeared at Alpha News and was reprinted with permission.