By Reg Chapman

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.

Beth Freeman (credit: Hennepin Co. Jail)

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.

Officer William Matthews and his family (credit: Henn. Co. Sheriff’s Office)

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.

Reg Chapman

Comments (7)
  1. Jen Adler says:

    anyone that has dollar bills in their possession has “drug paraphernalia” that “tests positive for cocaine”. additionally, “on drugs” is meaningless. what drug? anti-anxiety medication? anti-depressants? asthma medication? high blood pressure medication? obviously whatever “drug” it was wasn’t illegal or there would be charges associated with that and there aren’t. i’m so tired of the desperation on part of the shady police & prosecutors in this town that they incessantly lie and exaggerate in pathetic attempts to slander people and make trumped up charges because they are all about policing for profit. the woman wasn’t paying attention and hit a pedestrian. happens to people everyday. people that aren’t “on drugs”.

    1. Kevin Ol says:

      Ok did you bother to read the charges? she killed someone with her vehicle due to her negligence, not to mention she didn’t have a license because it was cancelled IPS (inimical to public safety) In other words due to her DWI convictions they cancelled her license because she was a public safety risk. So are you saying it’s no big deal and she shouldn’t be charged with criminal vehicular homicide?

  2. Kevin Ol says:

    The article clearly states she had constricted pupils and elevated heart rate which is indicative of stimulant use such as cocaine, and then they find drug paraphernalia that tests positive for cocaine. Even Captain Obvious can figure this one out. As for not charging her with the paraphernalia, here is the statute for multiple offenses, they normally won’t charge a lesser offense. 609.035 CRIME PUNISHABLE UNDER DIFFERENT PROVISIONS.

    Subdivision 1.Conduct; multiple crimes; chargeable for one offense. Except as provided in subdivisions 2, 3, 4, and 5, and in sections 609.2114, subdivision 3, 609.251, 609.2691, 609.486, 609.494, 609.585, and 609.856, and Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 609.21, subdivision 1b, if a person’s conduct constitutes more than one offense under the laws of this state, the person may be punished for only one of the offenses and a conviction or acquittal of any one of them is a bar to prosecution for any other of them. All the offenses, if prosecuted, shall be included in one prosecution which shall be stated in separate counts.