Cottage Grove man's Hearthside Park police chase start of 3 arrests in 3 daysA Cottage Grove man allegedly ripped up a city park with his car during a police chase in the first of his three arrests in three days this week.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
A Cottage Grove man allegedly ripped up a city park with his car during a police chase in the first of his three arrests in three days this week.
Richard J. Smith Jr. was arrested for suspected drunken driving early Sunday after he allegedly fled a traffic stop and led police on a pursuit through town to Hearthside Park.
A day later, he was picked up on suspicion of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Then, on Tuesday he was arrested for a third time after attempting to hitchhike while in possession of stolen property.
Smith was being held in Washington County jail with formal criminal charges pending.
According to police, the three days of alleged criminal activity started with an attempted traffic stop about 12:40 a.m. Sunday at 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue. Smith stopped his vehicle but when a police officer started to approach his vehicle, he drove away.
The police chase ended at Hearthside Park, near Hearthside Road and Hillside Trail. Smith drove his vehicle onto the park grounds, tearing up the sod, police said. After hitting curbs, the car was inoperable. Smith allegedly tried to run away but was caught by police.
Smith was taken to an area hospital with possible injuries but later was transported to Washington County jail and booked on suspicion of drunken driving. Police are awaiting lab results from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension before filing formal charges.
Smith was released from jail, but arrested again on Monday after going to his parents’ house in Cottage Grove. He was arrested for alleged trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Police had a third encounter with Smith on Tuesday. An officer was dispatched about 7:30 a.m. to Kimbro Avenue and 100th Street for a suspicious person. A passing motorist had called to report someone attempting to hitchhike. The officer found Smith in the area, and he allegedly was in possession of stolen checks or other financial documents.
Smith was booked and released from Washington County jail pending formal charges.
The police chase that ended with damage to Hearthside Park came just days after the park building was vandalized two consecutive nights.