Sleepy Eye Police apprehended a Courtland man after he lead them on a high speed chase about town on Tuesday night, Sept. 15.
Sleepy Eye Police apprehended a Courtland man after he lead them on a high speed chase about town on Tuesday night, Sept. 15. The driver, identified as Matthew Warren Luepke, age 22, has been charged with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle - a felony.
The incident began when police were contacted by a DNR agent who said he was checking fishermen near the Minnesota River. He said a male packed up his belongings and took off from the landing in an aggressive manner and he was unable to follow the vehicle. The vehicle was registered to Luepke.
The SEPD officer on duty saw the vehicle at a gas station and recognized Luepke walking out of the station toward the car. The officer followed the vehicle, which did not stop at a stop sign and then accelerated at a high rate of speed. The officer turned on the radar and clocked the vehicle at 56 miles per hour. He activated his emergency lights and sirens as he continued to follow Luepke.
Luepke led the police officer on a chase in the southwest area of Sleepy Eye, eventually crashing into a light pole on 7th Avenue SW. He then took off at a high rate of speed towards Main Street, which he traveled on for three blocks turning north at 4th Avenue NW. He sped straight ahead through a stop sign and didn’t stop until he crashed into the bike trail pole barrier.
The police officer stopped the squad car behind Luepke’s vehicle and loudly commanded Luepke to stop exiting the car and put his hands up. He did not comply and began making aggressive movements with his hands near the glove box and under the seat, ignoring the officers repeated commands.
Luepke eventually exited the vehicle and continued to ignore all commands from the officer who warned Luepke he would be tased. He did not comply, was tased and fell to the ground. He was tased again when he continued to defy the officer’s commands. The DNR agent then arrived to assist and Luepke was handcuffed.
Police Chief Matt Andres said that because Luepke had been in an accident, and was tased, he was taken to the hospital prior to being transported to the jail in New Ulm. He explained this is standard procedure when the taser is used.
“The Sleepy Eye officer involved in the pursuit remained calm and relied on experience and training during the chase,” said Chief Andres. “Once the chase ended, the officer used proper safety procedures and good judgement to apprehend the suspect. The suspect was taken into custody using only minimal force and was given every opportunity to surrender unharmed. Having reviewed the situation and evidence, I was proud and pleased at the restraint and professionalism our officer exhibited.”
Chief Andres said the Sleepy Eye Police Department was aided by a MN DNR Officer with help coming from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and the New Ulm Police Department.
In addition to the felony charge of fleeing a peace officer, Luepke was also charged with two misdemeanors - obstruct legal process and failure to notify property owner of damaged property, and a petty misdemeanor - speed greater than reasonable.
Luepke was booked in the Brown County jail at 12:06 a.m. on Sept. 16. In addition to the charges from this incident, Nicollet County placed a hold on him for a probation violation related to charges of second degree drug sales. Bail was set at $15,000 and Luepke remains in jail at press time.
Sleepy Eye Parks Director Steve Lingen said they were able to repair the damage to the bike trail barrier with no problem. Bob Elston, Public Works Director, said the light pole that Luepke ran into snapped off and was replaced on Wednesday.