Same story. Dope, scumbags, and cops at risk. When will you have enough? How will our vodka soaked elected hero screw up this case?

Two charged after suspect grabs for officer’s gun near Cloquet
By Tom Olsen Today at 4:52 p.m.

fondulac

A Moose Lake man’s failed attempt to disarm a police officer — captured on video and widely circulated online this week — underscores just how quickly a routine traffic stop can escalate into a life-threatening situation, police said Tuesday.

While the Friday evening situation near Cloquet was resolved without major incident, officer Sheri Dupuis of the Fond du Lac Police Department noted that deadly force is an option when a suspect attempts to disarm an officer.

“It can escalate very quickly,” Dupuis said. “You never know what you’re going to encounter.”

Thomas Clifford Needham, 36, was formally charged Tuesday in State District Court in Carlton with disarming a peace officer and obstructing the legal process with force.

Disarming a peace officer is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The police department on Monday released squad car dashcam footage of the incident, which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Friday on the 2500 block of Big Lake Road.

A Fond du Lac police officer initiated the traffic stop after observing the car driving without headlights, according to a criminal complaint. Dupuis said the officer “had a feeling something wasn’t going to be right” and called for backup.

The video shows the driver, 19-year-old Kordell Joseph Defoe, partially exiting the car through the window before becoming involved in a struggle with police. During the scuffle, Needham, a passenger in the back seat, appears to reach through the window and briefly grasp an officer’s firearm.

The weapon remained holstered, and the three officers were able to subdue the two men. No injuries to the suspects were reported, but authorities said one officer did suffer a knee injury when he fell to the ground during the scuffle.

Dupuis said the department posted the video on social media to show how quickly a routine incident can intensify. Still, she said officers were surprised how much interest it generated, with more than 75,000 views on Facebook after 24 hours and numerous stories written in local and regional media.

While the video depicts a situation that was resolved without deadly force, Dupuis stressed that is not always the case when a suspect reaches for an officer’s gun. She said situations where officers are engaged in hands-on altercations are becoming more common.

“The officer didn’t use (deadly force) because he had other indicators which led him to believe the guy didn’t have a firearm in the car and wasn’t going to attempt to get his firearm again,” she said. “That’s why he took the route that he took.”

Police suspect that substance abuse was a factor in the incident. Defoe was found in possession of gabapentin, a prescription drug often used to treat epilepsy, according to the complaint.

Authorities said Defoe was also in possession of a knife, and a BB gun and pepper spray were recovered from the vehicle. A female passenger was not arrested.

Defoe, of Cloquet, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of fourth-degree assault of a peace officer, obstructing the legal process with force, driving after revocation and possession of a legend drug.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Robert Macaulay set Needham’s bail at $5,000 with conditions or $50,000 without. Defoe’s bail was set at $500/$5,000.

Both men are due back in court next week.

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