Traffic stop leads to high-speed chase

Tire spikes, stun gun, K-9 officer used for arrest

Jon Tatting
ECM Post Review

A man reportedly pulled a gun and a knife during a July 2 traffic stop near Wyoming that escalated into a high-speed chase on Interstate 35.

Thomas Edward Weller, 45, of Oakdale, was charged with four felonies — second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, terroristic threats, fleeing police in a motor vehicle and fleeing with other than a motor vehicle resulting in substantial bodily harm — and obstructing the legal process with force, a gross misdemeanor.

According to the complaint:

Just before 6:30 p.m., an officer responded to a report of a possibly impaired driver on southbound I-35 near Stacy. The officer found the vehicle heading south on the interstate near Viking Boulevard in Wyoming. Due to the driver’s abnormal behavior — putting his hands out the window and yelling at the officer — back-up was requested. A traffic stop was conducted after the vehicle, which was hauling a camper topper and a motorcycle on a trailer, pulled over just south of the Wyoming exit before continuing on the interstate and repeatedly crossing the center and fog lines.

Weller was reportedly verbally aggressive with the officer during the traffic stop and denied driving on the shoulder of the road. He told the officer he was on his way to Alcoholics Anonymous. He would not comply with the officer’s commands to keep his hands visible.

The officer believed Weller was under the influence of a controlled substance. He also observed a revolver on the dashboard.

The officer, deeming the man a threat to his safety, pulled his service weapon and commanded him to put his hands out of the window and not move for the revolver. Reportedly, Weller refused and laughed at the officer, saying, “What are you gonna do? … Shoot me? … (Expletive) Go ahead. … Come on, man. … Do it. … Pull the trigger.”

When the officer continued to order Weller to not reach for his gun, the suspect replied, “What? Don’t touch this gun? So what if I do?” The suspect then reached over and picked up the revolver — despite commands to drop it — and dropped it out the window. The officer pushed it away with his foot; it was later found to be loaded with five .357 soft-point rounds.

At that time, the officer was joined by additional officers who also directed their weapons toward Weller as he continued to ignore their commands. One of the officers requested Forest Lake Police’s K-9 officer.

Told to exit his vehicle, Weller did, but would not get on the ground as instructed. Instead, he retrieved a 4- to 5-inch folding shaving razor, opened it and held it to his neck while laughing at the officers.

An officer then fired a bean-bag gun at Weller, who was struck in the arm but acted as if no contact had been made. 

Weller told the officers they could follow him to AA in Andover. He then drove away.

Requesting assistance from other agencies, the officers pursued, attempting an unsuccessful immobilization maneuver, before Weller’s speed increased to about 92 mph. He continued south on I-35 to Lino Lakes, where officers deployed spike strips that ultimately deflated the tires of the suspect’s vehicle. 

The Weller vehicle crashed into trees. He fled the scene on foot and jumped a fence into a residential area. He was located near a house by Ranger, the Forest Lake K-9 officer. Surrounded by authorities, Weller then “bear hugged” the police dog and said he would not let go.

Officers then deployed stun guns on Weller, who let the dog go and went to the ground but still failed to comply with the officers’ commands. Resuming a physical struggle, he was shot with a stun gun at least three more times, with the K-9 continuing to bite his right arm, before he would comply with law enforcement.

Handcuffed and placed in custody, Weller was transported to Fairview Lakes Medical Center for treatment. Also requiring treatment was one of the officers who pursued the suspect on foot. The officer learned that his wrist and thumb tendon had been hyperextended, and he had stretched a nerve.

In addition to the suspect’s revolver, a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle was later found in Weller’s vehicle.

Unconditional bail for Weller was set at $150,000 at his first court appearance July 3 in Chisago County District Court. Conditional bail was set at $75,000, according to Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter. 

Weller’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 21.