A Cloquet police officer has pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge after crashing and abandoning his personal vehicle while off duty in August.
Andrew Michael Murray, 34, entered the plea to a misdemeanor count of driving while impaired at a hearing in State District Court last week.
Murray was arrested and cited after a crash in Carlton on the night of Aug. 6. The Carlton County Sheriff's Office responded to a traffic complaint of a Pontiac G6 that sped away from the four-way stop in Carlton at state Highway 210 toward Wrenshall, swerved and eventually crashed near the intersection of Webbeking Drive and Gillespie Drive, according to the incident report.
Murray fled into the woods near South Terrace Elementary School and was arrested without incident after multiple law enforcement agencies set up a perimeter, the sheriff's office reported.
During the investigation, a state trooper observed Murray showing signs of impairment and transported him to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet. A search warrant was obtained to take a blood sample from Murray for a blood-alcohol test. The sample was submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but the results were not available at the time of charging.
Murray was cited for DWI and remained at the Community Memorial Hospital for further medical treatment.
The officer remains employed by the Cloquet Police Department but is still on paid leave, Chief Derek Randall said this week. Randall earlier called the arrest "unacceptable" and said that "when an officer violates the very law we are trying to enforce, it weakens the trust and confidence we have with our community."
"He’s still on administrative leave pending the final disposition of his criminal case," Randall wrote in an email Tuesday. "Once that is completed, we will start our internal process."
With Murray's plea, special prosecutor Shawn Reed agreed to dismiss two additional counts of DWI and one count of failure to stop for a collision. Reed, a Duluth attorney who serves as Hermantown city prosecutor, is handling the case in place of Cloquet City Attorney Frank Yetka due to the potential conflict of interest.
Murray waived the right to an attorney and has represented himself in the matter.
Court records indicate that the agreement calls for a 90-day jail sentence to be stayed in favor of probation, the terms of which will be left up to the court at sentencing. Murray would also be subject to a $1,000 fine.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Rebekka Stumme ordered a probation officer to conduct an investigation of Murray's background prior to sentencing Dec. 14.