Jan. 18—EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire man will spend four years on probation in connection with a police pursuit and car crash last fall on the city's west side.
Kevin M. Tetzlaff, 38, pleaded no contest recently in Eau Claire County Court to felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempting to flee an officer and identity theft, and a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed knife.
As conditions of probation, Judge Michael Schumacher ordered Tetzlaff to maintain absolute sobriety and undergo any recommended programming or treatment. Tetzlaff also cannot have contact with any known drug dealers or users.
Tetzlaff was fined $2,007.
Tetzlaff's co-defendant, Sherise M. Howard, 49, 1828 S. Hastings Way, returns to court Wednesday.
According to the criminal complaint:
The chase began at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, when an Eau Claire police officer on patrol heard a car with very loud exhaust and saw it turn westbound onto Vine Street. Following the vehicle in his squad car, the officer turned on his emergency lights and then siren to get the loud vehicle to pull over.
It took several blocks for the vehicle to stop on the street, which the officer found suspicious as they'd driven by ample places to park. Approaching the car with caution, the police officer saw that inside it there was a man wearing a face mask and a woman with a hood pulled over her head.
When the officer shined his flashlight at the vehicle's occupants, they turned toward him and then the car drove off at high speeds.
Another Eau Claire Police Department squad car had arrived and gave chase, continuing westbound on Vine Street. The speeding vehicle ignored a red light and turned south onto Clairemont Avenue.
The pursuing officer decided that given light nighttime traffic and dry roads, he could safely engage in a high-speed chase, but still showed caution when approaching intersections.
The speeding car began to outrun the police car at the intersection of Clairemont Avenue and Menomonie Street. The officer could still see the fleeing vehicle ignore a red light at the Craig Road intersection and continue driving on Clairemont Avenue.
It was at this point that a UW-Eau Claire Police Department squad car joined the chase, which had gotten close to the university's upper campus. The fleeing driver then tried to turn off Clairemont Avenue onto Hendrickson Road, but lost control of the vehicle. The car crashed into a stop light at the intersection.
Tetzlaff got out of the wrecked vehicle and ran toward the parking lot of the nearby Red Lobster restaurant. He ignored multiple commands to stop that were yelled by a police officer who was chasing him on foot. After about 100 meters of running, the officer caught up with Tetzlaff, wrapped his arms around the suspect's waist and pulled him to the ground.
The officer handcuffed Tetzlaff and searched him for contraband, finding none. Tetzlaff told the officer he ran because he did not want to go to jail.
Other officers approached the crashed car to arrest Howard, who was still in the passenger seat. She needed help getting out of the wrecked car and complained of back pain.
Both Tetzlaff and Howard were brought by ambulances to Eau Claire hospitals.
A police search of the crashed vehicle uncovered a small baggie containing methamphetamine, hollow straws and pens containing meth, bags containing controlled prescription pills, a syringe, a plastic pipe for smoking meth and butane torches. Two knives were also concealed in the back seat, within reach of both the driver and passenger. A debit card that did not belong to either Tetzlaff or Howard was also found in the vehicle.
Nurses who were examining Howard also found small baggies containing methamphetamine on her person. When Howard was checked into jail, a debit card belonging to another person was also found in her possession.
When talking to officers, Tetzlaff said Howard told him to run from the police. Howard denied saying that and told police that she'd brought the car to a stop by grabbing the steering wheel.