MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ramsey County Attorney John Choi calls it a disturbing and shocking case. A Minneapolis man with a lengthy criminal record ran down two Army recruiters at a Roseville crosswalk on Tuesday, dragging one of the men nearly three-quarters of a mile.
“This was no accident from our perspective,” Choi said.
His office charged Enrico Darius Taylor, 52, with three counts of criminal vehicular operation in connection with the hit-and-run on Tuesday.
According to the charges, Taylor allegedly dragged one of the recruiters for nearly a mile before the victim was able to free himself from the vehicle.
That victim, identified as 42-year-old SSgt. Travis Torgerson, of Circle Pines, suffered a broken leg, tailbone and ribs, along with numerous abrasions to his tailbone and lower back. The injuries will require several skin grafts to fully heal as the flesh was ground down to the bone, according to authorities.
“There’s a plate inserted into his heal. I don’t believe that plate will ever be removed – it’s there to stabilize a traumatic injury. So I don’t believe there will ever be a full recovery,” said Roseville Police Chief Rick Mathwig.
The other victim, 29-year-old Sgt. Michael Stroud, of Brooklyn Center, was tossed into the air and landed about 15 feet away. He spoke to WCCO on Wednesday about the experience, describing it as a terrifying incident watching his partner being dragged.
“As I saw him speed away I felt an empty feeling, he was going to be gone,” he said then.
According to the complaint, police were called shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday regarding two pedestrians who were struck by a Jeep near Roseville Shopping Center.
Stroud told officers that he and Torgerson were in the crosswalk when a Jeep approached them, did not slow down and proceeded through the crosswalk at about 10-12 mph.
Two witnesses told officers they saw Torgerson hanging on to the rear bumper of the vehicle, screaming for help as the vehicle dragged him.
Police discovered that while Taylor was allegedly dragging Torgerson, Taylor left his vehicle twice, saw Torgerson underneath and began kicking him to try and free him from his Jeep. After an unsuccessful attempt, Taylor got back into his vehicle and continued to drive with Torgerson stuck underneath, while running stop signs and stop lights.
As Taylor turned southbound on Prior Avenue, Torgerson was able to free himself from the vehicle. Taylor continued to drive away, according to the charges.
Officers later located the unoccupied vehicle in a Motel 6 parking lot in Roseville. Motel staff called police after Taylor asked them to call him a cab and they noticed he was acting unusual.
Taylor then fled the motel and was arrested in a nearby auto dealership.
In an interview with police, Taylor initially denied driving the Jeep or being involved in the incident whatsoever. He told police he was meeting someone at the Motel 6.
When he was told a witness identified him as the driver, Taylor said he wanted to speak to his attorney and had nothing more to say. About 10 minutes later, he told officers he wanted to speak to them.
He said he was concerned about the man he hit.
“I freaked out because my license is suspended. I turned the corner coming up the hill. I got a contact in, the light blinded me, I didn’t see him, he stepped in front of me, it was too late,” he told officers, according to the complaint.
County Attorney Choi said that doesn’t excuse his callous disregard for Torgerson’s life once he realized what had happened.
“He even gets out of the car and after seeing the victim he continues to drive,” Choi said.
He said he didn’t target the men and that he hit them by accident.
When investigators told Taylor he dragged the man all the way to County Road B and Prior Avenue, he began to cry.
He said the vehicle he was driving didn’t have insurance and his license was revoked for fleeing police in a separate incident.
Taylor then told officers he used cocaine on Sunday and drank vodka and beer on Monday. He denied taking any illegal narcotics or consuming alcohol on the day of the hit-and-run.
Taylor has an extensive criminal history, ranging from check forgery, fleeing police and theft by swindle.
“This defendant displayed a blatant disregard for the life of both victims and he is clearly a threat to our community,” Choi said in a press release. “We will seek to hold the defendant accountable for his actions and pursue justice for the victims and our community.”
Taylor will make his first court appearance on Thursday. If convicted of Tuesday’s hit-and-run, the two felony charges alone could send him to prison for at least 10 years.