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Guilty conscience led to squad-crash confession, charges say

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This video still, taken from a Hudson police car, depicts the moment before the squad was struck in March by an oncoming car on Coulee Road. (Submitted image)2 / 2

An inattentive driving ticket gave way to felony charges after a man, allegedly overcome by guilt, came forward to tell authorities that his crash with a Hudson police car earlier this year was not accidental.

The man, 21-year-old Quinton C. Hesse, was charged Wednesday in St. Croix County Circuit Court with battery to a law enforcement officer by use of a dangerous weapon and first-degree recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.

Hesse appeared in court Wednesday, where St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack ordered a competency evaluation after public defender Joseph Caton said there is “a question of legal competence” surrounding Hesse’s defense. St. Croix County Deputy District Attorney Michael Nieskes agreed that an evaluation was in order and said it will be completed by the Wisconsin Forensic Unit.

Hesse admitted to investigators that he has been diagnosed as psychotic and takes several medications to control the disorder, according to a criminal complaint.

Vlack ordered Hesse to be held on $10,000 cash bond.

The March 31 crash made headlines across the region after video of the incident went viral. Dash-cam video depicts the Hudson squad car heading up Coulee Road when an oncoming car comes into the officer's lane and strikes it near Birkmose Park Street. The crash sent the officer, Andrew Wedell, to the hospital with minor injuries.

Hesse pleaded no contest April 27 to inattentive driving – the only charge at the time stemming from the crash.

But this week, Hudson police were contacted by officers from New Richmond, saying a man -- later identified as Hesse -- came to their police station Monday to say he thought there was a warrant for his arrest. After probing why Hesse was asking about the warrant, he allegedly replied that he had been involved in a crash where he intentionally drove at a Hudson police car.

According to the charging document:

Hudson police went to Grace Place Tuesday and interviewed Hesse, where he confirmed his initial statement with New Richmond police -- that he struck the Hudson squad on purpose.

A Hudson detective asked Hesse if a marijuana ticket he received earlier in the day on March 31 in Minnesota left him upset.

“Yes,” Hesse responded.

He said he was angry about the ticket so he intentionally drove at the cruiser in Hudson. He told police he was aware that the crash could have injured the officer, but wasn’t aware that it could have been fatal.

After hitting the squad, Hesse -- who was living out of his car at the time -- said he felt “terrible.” He said his psychosis didn’t give him any hallucinations at the time of the crash.

Asked why he felt the need to come forward, Hesse said he “felt terrible about the situation and that was the reason for meeting with the New Richmond officers.”

A Hudson detective asked if it was fair to say that he was “holding this guilt in and that it just became overwhelming” to the point he need to tell police. Hesse agreed with the statement.

He was later arrested and jailed.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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