The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 26, 2012

Grand Jury issues no indictment of New Ulm officer

The Free Press

NEW ULM — A grand jury in Brown County ruled there should be no criminal charges filed against a New Ulm police officer involved in a fatal automobile collision in July.

The jury issued a “no-bill” indictment against officer Mathew Rasmussen, who was driving a squad car July 8 when the vehicle struck an automobile driven by Myra Meyer of New Ulm. Meyer and her son and passenger, Brian Wichmann, died of injuries they suffered in the collision.

Steven Collins, the Redwood County attorney, acting as special prosecutor for the Brown County attorney, presented evidence to the grand jury this week.

The grand jury considered a number felony and misdemeanor criminal counts, but issued a “no bill” on each count. Collins said no other charges are being considered and the case is closed.

The Brown County Attorney’s office, which works closely with New Ulm police, referred the case to Collins to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest — the same reason the Minnesota State Patrol handled the crash investigation.

Calling a grand jury is a relatively uncommon and comparatively expensive way to determine whether or not charges will be levied against someone. Twenty-four jurors were called in and presented the case.

Little information has been made public about the crash which killed Meyer, 82, of New Ulm and Wichmann, 60, of Mankato. The initial incident report said only that Meyer was driving a Mercury Sable northeast on Garden Street and attempting to make a left turn into a driveway when the Mercury was struck by a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria squad car being driven southwest on Garden Street by officer Rasmussen.

Wichmann died that day and Meyer 10 days later after being transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Rasmussen was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at the New Ulm Medical Center.