Squad-car videos give new look at chase on Moorhead golf course
MOORHEAD -- In June 2014, a bystander captured smartphone video of three squad cars chasing a pickup truck across the Village Green Golf Course in south Moorhead.
MOORHEAD - In June 2014, a bystander captured smartphone video of three squad cars chasing a pickup truck across the Village Green Golf Course in south Moorhead.
Now, the Moorhead Police Department has released dashboard-camera videos showing the officers’ perspectives of the chase, which sent golfers scrambling for safety and resulted in discipline against four officers.
The footage made public Wednesday gives viewers what they’d expect from a police chase: a man wanted on felony charges careening down the road, blowing through a red light and swerving to avoid an officer’s tire-deflating spike strip.
The pickup truck and police cruisers weave through traffic, zip down residential streets and tear across lawns before reaching the golf course, where a group of golfers has to run for cover.
After the truck drives onto the course, there’s about 20 seconds before a voice on a police radio asks, “Is he on the golf course?” Another 20 seconds later, the voice says, “Call it off. I don’t want us on the golf course. There’s too many people.”
An internal investigation determined that officers’ speeds hit 30 to 40 mph on the course, where the chase was eventually stopped. The investigation concluded that the chase should have been halted sooner for public safety reasons.
One officer involved in the pursuit received a written reprimand; a second officer was suspended for four days without pay; and a third officer was suspended for two days without pay, as was the sergeant who oversaw the pursuit, according to police records.
Moorhead police said the dashboard-camera videos were released Wednesday because Clay County Attorney Brian Melton decided not to prosecute the fleeing driver, 34-year-old Kendall Feist, in state court.
Melton said his decision came as a result of Feist pleading guilty to a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. On Sept. 3, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Feist to 11 years in prison and five years of supervised release.
In Clay County, Feist had faced a felony charge of fleeing an officer. But Melton said he declined to pursue that case because a Clay County conviction likely would not have added to Feist’s prison time.
Feist had a passenger in the pickup truck who was not charged in connection with the chase, Melton said.
The evening of June 17, 2014, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation tracked Feist to the A Lott Better Auto Shop at 1728 23rd St. S. in Moorhead’s old industrial park, police said.
About 1 1/2 miles away, the agents met with Moorhead police officers in the parking lot of Menards to hatch a plan to arrest Feist. As they talked, authorities in a helicopter, flown by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, saw Feist drive away from the auto shop, police said.
Moorhead officers broke from the huddle at Menards to intercept Feist. They tried to stop him in the 2600 block of 20th Avenue South. But he sped away, beginning the chase that later went through the golf course, police said.
After Feist drove off the golf course, the chase resumed with Moorhead officers following him into Fargo. The internal investigation found that the three disciplined officers all reached speeds of 100 mph or more on Main Avenue Southeast in Moorhead and on Interstate 94.
One of the squad-car videos revealed that, at some point during the chase, a voice on a police radio told officers, “Everybody just back off. We have a helicopter on him, and there’s no need to push him.”
Another voice later said, “There is an unmarked (inaudible) car still pursuing, but I don’t know what it is.”
The BCI has said that one of its officers in a red SUV monitored the vehicle pursuit but that no BCI officers actively took part in it.
The chase ended after authorities in the helicopter spotted Feist at West Acres mall. BCI agents with guns drawn pursued Feist on foot in the busy mall and ultimately arrested him.