Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When you hear someone threatened police with a weapon, you probably think it would be a gun or knife.
But some bad guys are arming themselves with dogs. Minnesota sheriff’s deputy learned that the hard way during a high-speed chase that was caught on tape last winter.
In law enforcement, there are certain risks that go with the job. Risks that Deputy Sheriff Dan May experienced on a February morning as he and two other Hubbard County deputies went to follow up on a warrant for Jesse Johnson.
“It may have been a totally different outcome if I had been by myself in the car,” May said.
The officers were trying to catch Johnson at a house. Dash cam video shows Johnson immediately took off in his car.
“It just went from bad to worse,” May said.
For the next 15 minutes, Johnson took deputies on a high-speed chase through the woods, on back roads and trails. With speeds reaching 70 mph on icy roads, Johnson eventually spun out.
But he wasn’t ready to give up.
“He crawled into the back seat, wrapped his legs around the driver’s seat head post…and put a pit bull in each arm,” May said.
Johnson threw one of the dogs at May.
“I look down and see his dog hanging from my elbow,” May said.
He managed to free himself, but the dog circled back. So he shot it.
“I honestly believe if I wouldn’t have it would have tried to bite me again,” May said.
For County Attorney Don Dearstyne this may have been a rare case. But it’s not exactly something new.
“It’s a trend, and it’s gone on for a number of years,” he said.
He’s seen other instances where dogs have been used to protect drugs. Johnson had a large amount of meth in his car.
“Animals such as this can be a dangerous weapon if they’re used in that manner, which is too bad,” Dearstyne said.
May’s injuries have healed, but the attack left a lasting mark.
“I’m way more cautious around dogs,” May said.
You might be wondering why someone would use a dog as a weapon. Investigators say convicted felons sometimes do it because they aren’t able to legally own guns.