Driver charged with vehicular homicide in death of Wayzata police officer

Monday, September 11, 2017

Beth Ilene Freeman was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of a Wayzata police officer, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Freeman, 54, of Mound was the driver of the car which struck and killed 47-year-old Wayzata Police Officer William Mathews Friday afternoon. Freeman was charged with criminal vehicular homicide-gross negligence and criminal vehicular homicide-negligence and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. She is expected to make her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon. Amount requested for bail is expected to be $500,000.

“This is another case of a distracted driver, someone who thought she could drive a one-ton vehicle safely while using her cell phone,” said Mike Freeman, no relation to the defendant. “She couldn’t and neither can anyone else on our roads. The result is too many of these tragedies where good people are dying through no fault of their own.”

According to the criminal complaint, Officer Mathews was sent to U.S. Highway 12 near Broadway Avenue at 12:26 p.m. because of a “chunk of metal in the road.” Approximately four minutes later, the call came of an officer down.

Several drivers, who witnessed the incident, told investigators that Officer Mathews had picked up the metal and was nearly back to his squad car, parked on the right shoulder, when a Nissan Murano struck him while traveling eastbound between 55 and 65 miles per hour, the complaint states.

Freeman, who was the driver of the car, admitted she was talking on the phone and receiving text messages just before collision. A search of her cell phone corroborated that admission, according to the complaint.

In addition, a police officer administered a field sobriety test to Freeman and she had constricted pupils and had difficulty counting backward. A search warrant was obtained and blood was drawn from her, although the results have not yet been returned. Drug paraphernalia in the passenger compartment of her car tested positive for cocaine, the complaint states.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)