Charges – Drugs and Cell Phone Use Contributed to Officer’s Death
Wayzata, MN (KROC-AM News) – The charges filed today against the driver accused of striking and killing a Twin Cities police officer on Friday alleges she was under in the influence of drugs and using a cell phone behind the wheel.
54-year-old Beth Freeman of Mound faces two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for causing the death of 47-year-old Wayzata Police Officer William Matthews. She also faces a gross misdemeanor charge for driving after the cancellation of her driver’s license for previous offenses.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says witnesses reported the officer had stopped his squad car along Highway 12 in Wayzata to remove a piece of metal from the driving lane, and was nearly back to his vehicle when he was hit.
“This is another case of a distracted driver, someone who thought she could drive a one-ton vehicle safely while using her cell phone,” said Mike Freeman, no relation to the defendant. “She couldn’t and neither can anyone else on our roads. The result is too many of these tragedies where good people are dying through no fault of their own.”
The criminal complaint indicates Freeman admitted talking on her cell phone and sending text messages just before the deadly collision. It also states an officer conducted a field sobriety test and found signs of impairment, including constricted pupils and a difficulty counting backward. A search of the vehicle she was driving led to the discovery of drug paraphernalia that tested positive for the presence of cocaine.
Officer Matthews grew up in the Rochester area and graduated from Pine Island High School. He also attended RCTC and Winona State University before starting his law enforcement career, which included an internship with the Rochester Police Department and part-time employment with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department.
His funeral is planned Thursday at a church in Plymouth.