Cloquet police officer pleads guiltyScott Robert Beckman, 46, of Esko pleaded guilty to one gross misdemeanor count of failure in the duties of a driver last Thursday in Sixth District Court in Virginia.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Scott Robert Beckman, 46, of Esko pleaded guilty to one gross misdemeanor count of failure in the duties of a driver last Thursday in Sixth District Court in Virginia. Beckman, a 10-year veteran patrol officer with the Cloquet Police Department, was charged in an off-duty incident that occurred Sept. 4, 2011, following a Ted Nugent concert at Fortune Bay Casino on Lake Vermilion. Beckman reportedly left the scene of an accident after his vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle. Though Beckman reported the accident the following day to authorities, he claimed he had pulled over but the car that hit him continued to travel.
A second deputy later interviewed Beckman at his Esko residence. At that time, Beckman said he had been at a Ted Nugent concert the night of the incident and had a few beers. He said he was stopped in traffic around 10 p.m. when another vehicle rear-ended him. He said he kept going because other vehicles around him kept moving. The deputy noted that statement was inconsistent with the first statement Beckman gave to the other deputy, specifically that he had earlier said he had stopped at the scene and the vehicle that hit him did not stop.
Beckman was subsequently charged with three crimes, including failure in the duties of a driver for allegedly failing to give notice by the quickest means of communication to law enforcement; hit and run for allegedly failing to immediately stop and remain at the scene of an accident; and falsely reporting a crime for allegedly providing false information to an officer regarding the conduct of others. The first crime is a gross misdemeanor, the other two are misdemeanors.
In a plea agreement entered at last Thursday’s hearing, Beckman pleaded guilty only to the first charge and the others were subsequently dismissed by Judge Gary Pagliaccetti.
Beckman’s attorney, David Keegan, stated one of the points that held the case up for so long was the fact that the driver of the vehicle who rear-ended Beckman’s vehicle had originally indicated he was not injured, leading Beckman to believe that he had 24 hours to report the incident. The driver later stated, however, that he did indeed incur minor injuries.
“Mr. Beckman then acknowledged that he should have reported it and that he was wrong to wait,” said Keegan.
A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by Pagliaccetti, and Beckman is scheduled for sentencing at 1 p.m. on May 9 in district court in Virginia.
According to Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande, Beckman has remained on the job with the department during the course of his court case. He said the department plans to conduct an internal investigation into the matter now that Beckman has pleaded guilty.
“As long as Beckman’s plea is accepted, the city attorney is comfortable with us proceeding with the internal investigation,” said Lamirande.
Because Beckman pleaded to a gross misdemeanor, Lamirande said the next step is to notify the Minnesota Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training, or POST Board, which is in charge of licensing and training standards for all Minnesota police officers.
“Usually they will look at it – they could revoke his license to practice – but it’s been my experience that more often they refer back to the local agency to handle internally,” Lamirande said.
Now that he’s cleared things with Cloquet’s city attorneys, Lamirande said the next step will be to request all the investigative reports from St. Louis County. Those will be forwarded to the POST Board and used in the local internal investigation.
“The internal investigation should be quick because there’s not a lot of additional fact finding to do, just basically interviewing the people involved and the officer,” Lamirande said.
Beckman now faces criminal sanctions at his sentencing, possible sanctions from the licensing board and possible internal consequences from the police department.