Outside the rare gunfight, a high-speed chase is as intense as any bit of police work. Several high-profile incidents of police brutality have followed police pursuit of someone fleeing. (See: Rodney King.) Defenders of police will say cops can get overwhelmed with adrenaline in these moments, having feared for their lives, the lives of other motorists, even the life of the person fleeing.
It is with this charitable frame of mind that we invite you to take in the moment when Sgt. Lonnie Soppeland of the Eden Prairie Police Department apprehended Matthew Hovland-Knase, a motorcyclist who had tried to speed away from Soppeland one night last June.
"Get your hands where I can see them," Soppeland shouts, emerging from his squad car.
Both he and Hovland-Knase have an immediate reaction.
Soppeland says, "Oh, shit! Fuck! Fuck!" before trying to regain his calm and proceed with the arrest. The motorcyclist responds by crying out and begging for assistance from the guy who just put a round in his arm.
"I'm bleeding," Hovland-Knase says. "Please help me."
To Soppeland's credit, he does, putting his suspect on the ground and hustling back to his car for first-aid materials. As Soppeland wraps the bleeding arm, Hovland-Knase initiates one of the politest, most Minnesotan exchanges imaginable.
"You actually shot me, didncha'?" he asks.
"Ya," Soppeland says. "I'm not going to say anything right now. But it was not intentional, I can tell you that."
"I know it wasn't man," Hovland-Knase replies, nominating this incident for the fastest-ever forgiveness from someone who just got shot.
Fox 9, which first released the dashcam video, adds Soppeland's take on events from a few days after the shooting, when the sergeant told police investigators that he'd had firearm training just a few weeks earlier. With his adrenaline pumping, Soppeland drew his gun; muscle memory took over, and he shot.
Hovland-Knase was convicted of fleeing an officer. The Fox story doesn't give any indication Soppeland faced sanctions for the shooting.
Fox also incorrectly credits Soppeland for apologizing. The closest the cop comes is when he says the biker's fleeing "does not excuse my actions."
A thought: Next time this happens, Lonnie — wait. Two thoughts. First, let's not have this happen again. Second, if it does? Just say you're sorry.
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