A Cloquet police officer was placed on one year of supervised probation Monday after admitting to crashing and abandoning his personal vehicle while under the influence of alcohol this summer.
Andrew Michael Murray, 34, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of driving while impaired in November. The plea came after an off-duty incident in which he was reported to be driving erratically before wrecking and leaving his car while he fled into the woods, prompting a law enforcement search.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Rebekka Stumme stayed a 90-day jail sentence in favor of probation, also imposing a $1,000 fine and other fees. Among conditions of probation, Murray must complete a chemical-dependency assessment, attend the Carlton County DWI Clinic and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving impact panel, and refrain from all alcohol and drug use.
Murray was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest. Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall has indicated the city will initiate its internal review, which could result in disciplinary action, upon resolution of the criminal case.
Murray's arrest came 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.
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."
To avoid a conflict of interest, Murray's prosecution was handled by Shawn Reed, a Duluth attorney who serves as Hermantown city prosecutor. Under the terms of an agreement, Reed dismissed two additional counts of DWI and one count of failure to stop for a collision.
Murray waived the right to an attorney and represented himself in court.