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Officers nearly run down by car

Jonathon D. Taller

A 29-year-old Morris, Ill., man was arrested at gunpoint during the Summer Set music festival for multiple felony charges after allegedly almost running down three police officers with his car.

Jonathon D. Taller faces charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety (three counts), operating while intoxicated (second offense), resisting or obstructing an officer, possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and possession with intent to deliver other schedule I controlled substances.

According to Somerset Police Department reports, four officers responded  to the VIP camping area southwest of the general store at the Somerset Amphitheater (715 Spring St.) Saturday at 3:45 a.m. during the Summer Set music festival weekend for a controlled substance complaint.

Officers Mitchell Kriz and Jeremy Helwig reported being on foot patrol in the campground when they allegedly saw Taller sitting in the driver’s seat of a black 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The dome light was on, the car was running and Taller was bent over. When Helwig approached the driver’s side to check on the man, he allegedly saw Taller putting a white, powdery substance into baggies, according to the criminal complaint. Kriz also reported seeing a baggie with a white, powdery substance on the front passenger seat next to a wad of money.

According the complaint, Taller complied with Helwig when asked to shut off the car and acted like he was going to step out of the vehicle. But when officer Josh Olson pulled up and positioned his marked squad car behind the Sonata, Taller slammed the driver’s door and restarted the vehicle.

Olson then ordered Taller out of the car at gunpoint, according to the criminal complaint. As officer Brian Edwards tried to open the driver’s door of the Sonata after several attempts to communicate with the man, Taller allegedly put the car in reverse and drove it into Olson’s squad car.

According to the complaint, Edwards then drew his firearm and ordered Taller to stop the vehicle. Taller then allegedly shifted the car into drive and accelerated at a high rate of speed, almost striking Edwards, Helwig, Olson and campers in the area.

“I continued to voice commands for the driver to stop the vehicle as I was in great fear of my life and safety and the life and safety of Officer Edwards, Officer Helwig and the campers in the area,” Olson wrote in his report. “I started to take slack in on my trigger of my firearm. The vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed and I had to move out of the way to avoid being struck by the vehicle.”

Edwards also reported having to jump out of the way to avoid being struck by the fleeing vehicle.

Taller allegedly ignored voice commands from officers to stop and drove forward over a tent and hit another tent. According to the complaint, officers were unsure if anyone was in the tents at first and heard a woman scream, though later it was determined there wasn’t anyone in the tents. No one was injured in Taller’s flee attempt.

Olson and Edwards used their squad cars to block campground exits, Taller allegedly was stuck about 40 yards southeast of the initial encounter in a sand volleyball court. As officers approached the vehicle on foot, Taller continued to try to drive the car, revving the engine and spinning the tires which buried the car up to the rocker panels, according to the complaint.

Edwards broke the driver’s side window with a collapsible baton and ordered Taller to stop or he would be shot. Taller then allegedly put the car in park and raised his hands. According to reports, Taller appeared to be under the influence of narcotics and allegedly admitted several times that he was high.

After Taller was handcuffed, police cut three fanny packs off him, one of which contained a baggie of clear capsules with a white rock-like substance and gem baggies with a white powdery substance, according to the criminal complaint.

Somerset Rescue and Lakeview EMS also responded to the scene to perform a medical evaluation on Taller, who was taken by ambulance to Westfields Hospital in New Richmond where he was medically cleared to be taken to St. Croix County Jail. St. Croix County Sheriff’s deputies also assisted.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham issued a search warrant of Taller’s vehicle Saturday afternoon.

St. Croix County Sheriff’s investigator James Haefner and Pierce County Sheriff’s investigator Doug Ducklow, who both work with the St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force, searched the car and found multiple baggies filled with brown rock substances, white rocks, white powder and green plant material, almost $5,000 in cash, multiple forms of drug paraphernalia and bottles containing unknown liquid.

Taller made an initial appearance in St. Croix County Circuit Court Monday, Aug. 18, where bail was set at $25,000. He remains in custody. If convicted, Taller faces fines up to $100,000 and prison time up to 40 years.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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