Innocent driver killed by police chase suspect in Minneapolis - New York News

Innocent driver killed by police chase suspect in Minneapolis

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Lia Her mug shot from previous arrest Lia Her mug shot from previous arrest
Greg Kellogg | FOX 9 News Greg Kellogg | FOX 9 News
Brody Sotona Brody Sotona
Greg Kellogg | FOX 9 News Greg Kellogg | FOX 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

A 20-year-old Spring Valley, Wis., man was killed after a suspected drunk driver whose license was suspended struck his car while fleeing police in Minneapolis early Monday morning. The crash happened near 4th Street SE and Central Avenue.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a trooper attempted to stop 34-year-old Yia Her, of St. Paul, for speeding and suspicion of drunk driving on Interstate 94 at about 1 a.m. Monday.

After initially stopping, Her fled the scene in his 1997 Nissan Maxima. The State Patrol said troopers attempted a PIT maneuver four times on the fleeing vehicle, but all attempts were unsuccessful.

Her continued to flee and ultimately broadsided another car, killing the driver and injuring a passenger.

Police identified the driver as Brody Sotona. The passenger in Sotona's car, 24-year-old Connor Macklin of Stillwater, Minn., was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Macklin remains in critical condition at HCMC.

Her suffered non-life threatening injuries. He has been cited for multiple speeding offenses dating back to 2004 and police confirm his driver's license was suspended at the time of the crash.

Her also has a history of assault, with the most recent occurring on Jan. 28, 2013 after Her violated a no-contact order following a domestic abuse incident.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Patrol are investigating the crash.

STATEMENT FROM THE SOTONA FAMILY

"Brody was a fun, loving, 20-year-old who enjoyed life to the fullest. Brody had a passion for music and his band "Crush." He loved to have a good time with friends and family and will be missed tremendously by them. 

The family would like to know why the Minnesota State Trooper pursued the suspect into a high speed chase in downtown Minneapolis at 1 o'clock in the morning when it is quite clear that they already had the suspect's license plate and likely the name and address. If they would not have pushed him our son and brother would still be alive today."

STATE PATROL DEFENDS CHASE

On Monday, Lt. Eric Roeske, of the State Patrol, defended the troopers' decision to chase Her, explaining that law enforcement needed to get him off the road.

"Our duty is to apprehend violators. Obviously, we weigh that -- the need to apprehend the violators -- with the threat to the general public," Roeske said.

According to Roeske, the entire incident took place over the course of about 3 minutes after a trooper began to suspect Her was impaired behind the wheel.

"This driver was a threat to the general public prior to this crash -- prior to the stop, even," Roeske said. "An impaired driver going down the road, and this whole thing could have been avoided had he just remained stopped."

Roeske added that once Her was in custody, alcohol was detected.

"You have a drunk driver. Drunk drivers kill over 100 people a year. Do you just let him go, or do you try to stop him?" Roeske continued. "Obviously, in hindsight, you can come up with a lot of answers, but in the very short window that this trooper's trying to evaluate that, it's a little more difficult."

When asked whether the Minnesota State Patrol has a specific policy regarding police chases, Roeske confirmed that one does exist; however, he described it as a "guideline."

"They can't address every specific incident, every specific circumstance," he said. "It's more of a guideline, and those guidelines are to weigh the need to apprehend a suspected impaired driver fleeing through the city versus just letting him go."

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