MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Prosecutors say the driver who hit and killed a Wayzata police officer last Friday was on drugs and texting behind-the-wheel. She was also driving with a canceled license.
Officer William Mathews died Friday afternoon as he stopped to pick up debris on Highway 12. The driver of the car in the crash was charged Monday with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the incident.
Witnesses say Wayzata Police Officer William Matthews was in the middle of the far right lane of Highway 12 and returning to his squad car when he was hit by a vehicle driven by 54-year-old Beth Freeman. Freeman is now charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of the 47-year-old peace officer.
According to the criminal complaint, several witnesses say Freeman was driving between 55 and 65 miles per hour when she struck Officer Matthews. One of the witnesses says after the impact, while he was checking on Matthews, Freeman was outside her vehicle and kept saying “What have I done?”
The complaint says that one witness told her to get back in her car and back off the victim, because a front tire of her vehicle was still resting on the officer. A drug recognition expert gave Freemen a field sobriety test. The complaint says she had an elevated pulse, constricted pupils and difficulty in counting backwards.
A search warrant executed on Freeman’s car uncovered drug paraphernalia that tested positive for cocaine. Freeman also did admit she was talking on her phone and receiving text messages prior to the accident. Data pulled from her phone shows text messages read just before she hit the officer.
Investigators later determined Freeman’s driver’s license status to be “cancelled as inimical to public safety.” Freeman has a history of DUI, narcotics-related arrests and is currently on probation for drug charges, the complaint says.
Officers said Freeman was cooperating with investigators at the scene and was booked to Hennepin County Jail later that day.
Saturday, dozens of officers lined the street as Officer Matthew’s remains were brought to a Wayzata funeral home.
The public is invited to attend the 47-year-old’s funeral. It’ll be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Wayzata Free church. A memorial fund has been established in his honor at Wells Fargo Bank in Wayzata.
The attorney’s office says Freeman faces two criminal vehicular homicide charges because it is two different types of alleged behavior: gross negligence for the cell phone use and for being under the influence of drugs.