Jason Bill Salzl,
Reversed and Remanded
File No. K4-97-225
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, Roger S. Vanheel, Stearns County Attorney, Daniel A. Benson, Assistant Stearns County Attorney, 705 Courthouse Square, 448 Administration Center, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for appellant)
Robert D. Stoneburner, 100 Washburne Avenue, P.O. Box 202, Paynesville, MN 56362 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
The state challenges the district court's ruling that the arresting officer was not acting within the scope of his authority when he arrested respondent Jason Bill Salzl. Because the officer was acting within the course and scope of his employment, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Based on the information known by Officer Rose, he was familiar with the striking vehicle, the people he suspected to be associated with the vehicle, and where they lived. Officer Rose proceeded to a residence in Albany, eight miles beyond the city limits of Richmond. This was beyond the bounds of his jurisdiction as a City of Richmond police officer.
Upon arriving at the residence to which he suspected the maroon vehicle was proceeding, Officer Rose observed the premises for signs of activity and concluded no one was home. At approximately 1:56 a.m., he was in the driveway exiting the property when a maroon car passed by in front of his headlights.
Officer Rose followed the vehicle. After following the vehicle for a short time, Officer Rose pulled up behind the vehicle and verified that the license plate number matched the number given by the hit-and-run complainant. He, therefore, activated his emergency lights and siren.
The vehicle turned onto another street and accelerated. The vehicle swerved from side to side, traveled for approximately 6/10 of a mile, and crashed into a snow-bank. The driver exited the vehicle and started to run into a field. Officer Rose apprehended the driver, identified as Jason Bill Salzl, and noted that he resembled the description of the driver of the striking vehicle in the earlier hit-and-run. Officer Rose identified the passenger in this vehicle as Lloyd Christopher Schmitz, identified earlier by Weinmann as the passenger of the striking vehicle.
Officer Rose observed that Salzl showed signs of intoxication. Salzl sustained head and knee injuries in the accident and was taken to Albany Hospital. A blood test revealed that Salzl had a .21 blood-alcohol level.
A review of Salzl's driving record indicated his right to drive in Minnesota was revoked on December 29, 1995, and was not reinstated as of March 10, 1996, the date of this incident. Salzl was charged, on January 17, 1996, with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, aggravated driving while under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of an accident. On July 17, 1997, the district court granted Salzl's suppression motion based on Officer Rose's arrest outside his jurisdiction and dismissed all charges against Salzl. This appeal followed.
Common law states that beyond his or her own jurisdiction, an officer ordinarily has only the arrest powers of a private citizen. State v. Filipi, 297 N.W.2d 275, 278 (Minn. 1980). Minnesota statutory law, however, has refined the law regarding an officer's out-of-jurisdiction authority to arrest. The applicable statute is as follows:
Subd. 3. Authority for out of jurisdiction arrests. When a person licensed under section 626.84, subdivision 1, in obedience to the order of a court or in the course and scope of employment or in fresh pursuit as provided in subdivision 2, is outside of the person's jurisdiction, the person is serving in the regular line of duty as fully as though the service was within the person's jurisdiction.
Minn. Stat. § 629.40, subd. 3 (1996) (emphasis added).
In 1992, the supreme court interpreted this statute. See State v. Tilleskjor, 491 N.W.2d 893 (Minn. 1992). There, the supeme court upheld the stop by a Litchfield police officer of a driver whom he followed outside the Litchfield city limits. Id. The officer observed no improper driving conduct within the city justifying a stop, although he did see the car "brake suddenly or abruptly" before entering the street. Id. at 894. The officer then followed the car outside the city limits, where he saw it weaving within its traffic lane, prompting the officer to stop the car.
The supreme court noted that the "in the course and scope of employment" language was added to the statute by the legislature in 1985 (which was after the Filipi decision) and thus interpreted the statute as unambiguously conferring upon the officer the authority to stop the car outside of his jurisdiction. Id.
This court recently interpreted the statute in light of Tilleskjor. See State v. Bunde, 556 N.W.2d 917 (Minn. App. 1996) (consolidated appeal of two Waseca County cases). In the case involving defendant Francis, a Janesville police officer followed a speeding car--not Francis's--outside the city limits; the officer stopped following that car when he observed erratic driving conduct by Francis. The officer arrested Francis for driving under the influence of alcohol. Id. at 919. In the case involving defendant Bunde, an officer was outside the city of Janesville when he observed a car--not Bunde's--run a stop sign. Id. In following the car, the officer passed Bunde, who was lying back in the driver's seat of a car parked alongside the road. Id. Bunde was also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Id. at 920. This court found that the officer was acting in the course and scope of employment and therefore had authority to arrest the defendants. Id. at 919, 920.
In Bunde, we refused to limit the application of the statute, or the Tilleskjor case, to instances where an officer first observes a defendant within the officer's jurisdiction. Id. at 919. Specifically, this court stated that:
We must therefore read the statute (if it is to be read so as to avoid ambiguity) as authorizing on-duty police officers to operate free from the limitations of their city borders when the policing mission itself commences within the city-- regardless of where they first observe a defendant.
Where an on-duty police officer travels outside his or her jurisdiction for any valid law enforcement purpose, provided the policing mission commences within the officer's jurisdiction, the officer is acting within the course and scope of employment and is, therefore, serving in the regular line of duty as fully as though the service was within the officer's jurisdiction.
Officer Rose was acting within the course and scope of employment when he effected an investigatory stop of Salzl. The officer initially responded to the report of a hit-and-run accident that just happened in the City of Richmond. He spoke with witnesses and received a description of the driver, the name of the passenger, Lloyd Schmitz, a license number, and a description of the vehicle. This information, along with information already known, led Officer Rose to believe that he knew the probable location of Salzl. Only fourteen minutes after receiving the initial call, Officer Rose encountered the vehicle as he was exiting what he believed to be Salzl's driveway.
Because Officer Rose was acting in the course and scope of his employment, we find that he was serving in the line of duty as fully as though the service was within his own jurisdiction. Officer Rose had the authority to make an investigative stop of Salzl. Officer Rose clearly had a particularized and objective basis to believe Salzl was driving the maroon vehicle that had recently been involved in a hit-and-run accident in the City of Richmond. See State v. Engholm, 290 N.W.2d 780, 783 (Minn. 1980) (specific and articulable facts are required for a police officer to legally stop a person). Furthermore, because Salzl did not stop, despite Officer Rose activating his red lights, and eventually his siren, but fled and struck a snow bank, Officer Rose had probable cause to believe Salzl committed a public offense; this alone justifies a warrantless arrest. See Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 3 (1996).
Because Officer Rose was acting within the course and scope of his employment, we reverse the district court's decision and remand this case for further proceedings.
Reversed and remanded.
Judge Roland C. Amundson