On September 3, 2011, at approximately 2:19 p.m., CPD Officers Ryan Bergquist and Don Rasicot were dispatched to the V.F.W. Club in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota, to respond to a complaint about two individuals pounding on a vehicle and demanding money from two other people.  When Officer Bergquist arrived there, he spoke to Nicole Troutman.  Ms. Troutman stated that Ricardo Mello had damaged her van, and she pointed to Ricardo Mello as he was walking away.  Officer Bergquist yelled to Ricardo Mello and the person with him, but they ignored Officer Bergquist and continued walking towards Captain Crooks.

 

Officers Bergquist and Rasicot then went to Captain Crooks.  Officer Bergquist parked his squad car near the south doors to Captain Crooks and told Ricardo Mello and the person with him that he wanted to speak to them.  Ricardo Mello ignored Officer Bergquist and walked into Captain Crooks.  Officer Rasicot parked his squad car in front of the north doors to Captain Crooks and entered into Captain Crooks.  Officer Rasicot saw Ricardo Mello, told him to stop, and stated that he wanted to talk to him.  Ricardo Mello walked towards Officer Rasicot and pushed him backwards and attempted to exit the main bar area.  Officer Rasicot pushed Ricardo Mello back, drew his taser, and ordered Ricardo Mello to get to the ground.  Ricardo Mello continued coming towards Officer Rasicot in an aggressive manner, so Officer Rasicot deployed his taser as he backed up.  The taser had little effect on Ricardo Mello, and Ricardo Mello pulled the taser darts off him.  Ricardo Mello then attacked Officer Rasicot and punched Officer Rasicot with a closed fist in the face two to three times.  Officer Bergquist then deployed his taser twice, but the officers were unable to restrain Ricardo Mello.  Officers Rasicot and Bergquist then maced Ricardo Mello in the chest area, but it had little effect on Ricardo Mello.  At one point, Ricardo Mello stopped resisting the officers.  However, Ricardo Mello then fought through the officers and exited through the north doors of Captain  Crooks.  Ricardo Mello got into the driver's side door of Officer Rasicot's squad car.  Officers Bergquist and Rasicot tried to get Ricardo Mello out of the squad car, but they were unable to do so.  Officers Bergquist and Rasicot told Ricardo Mello to stop and to get out of the squad car, but Ricardo Mello refused to do so.  Officer Rasicot tried to reach for the keys in the ignition in order to turn the squad car off, but he was unable to do so because Ricardo Mello put the squad car in reverse.  Officer Bergquist had hold of the door to the squad car, but he had to let go because he was afraid that Ricardo Mello would run him over.  Ricardo Mello backed up the squad car, sped out of the parking lot, and headed south on Main Street.

 

At the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, Ricardo Mello turned the squad car right onto Old Highway 75 and struck another vehicle.  According to Minnesota State Trooper Luke Millette, it appeared that Ricardo Mello was traveling too fast to make the turn, went into the oncoming traffic lane, struck a pickup truck in the driver's side door, and caused the pickup truck to turn onto its passenger side.  (Trooper Millette subsequently attempted to reconstruct the events leading to the collision, and he determined that Ricardo Mello was traveling at approximately 55 miles per hour, in a 30-mile per hour speed zone, when he struck the pickup truck.) When Polk County Sheriff's Office Deputy Phil Juve arrived on the scene, there was no one in the squad car.  Deputy Juve did notice a woman, later identified as Patricia Briggs, laying on the ground near the pickup truck.  Ms. Briggs stated that her husband, Eddie Briggs, still was inside of the pickup truck.  One person spoke to Eddie Briggs while he was trapped inside of the pickup truck, but emergency medical personnel later pronounced Eddie Briggs dead at the scene of the crash.  (An autopsy later revealed that Eddie Briggs suffered the following injuries as a result of the collision: multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations to the skin; multiple rib fractures; a thoracic aorta laceration; left hemothorax; and left radius/ulna fracture.)

 

Ms. Briggs was transported by emergency personnel to Riverview Hospital in Crookston, and doctors there determined that Ms. Briggs suffered a closed fracture of her right humerus bone.  Ms. Briggs later underwent surgery where it was discovered that the fracture of the humerus had punctured all the way through the muscle and into the subcutaneous tissue just to the dermis.  During the surgery, a metal plate was inserted to repair the fracture, and this metal plate was fixed in place by metal screws.

 

Officers later were informed that Ricardo Mello was at Riverview Hospital and was being treated for injuries that he had suffered.  When Deputy Juve arrived at Riverview Hospital, he placed Ricardo Mello under arrest.  Deputy Juve noted that Ricardo Mello was very belligerent and uncooperative.

 

CPD Officer Dacien Bienek went to Riverview Hospital and spoke to Robert Baird.  Mr. Baird stated that he had been driving on Old Highway 75 when he saw the squad car traveling at 60 to 70 miles per hour from South Main Street onto Old Highway 75; the squad car traveled into the oncoming traffic lane and hit the vehicle in front of him (Mr. Baird) even though that vehicle had pulled over to the right of the roadway; the squad car just missed his vehicle; he did a U-turn and went back to the scene; a person jumped onto his vehicle and stated that he needed to go to the hospital; this person was bleeding; he gave this person a ride to the hospital; this person went into the emergency room; and he called 911.  Officer Bienek also noted that Officer Rasicot's right eye was swelling as a result of Ricardo Mello's assault upon him.

 

Officers later transported Ricardo Mello to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, North Dakota, for additional treatment.  After Ricardo Mello was cleared for discharge, CPD Investigator Darin Selzler informed Ricardo Mello that he would be transported back to Crookston, and Ricardo Mello stated that he was not going back to Crookston.  After he was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints, Ricardo Mello started yelling and swearing at Investigator Selzler, CPD Officer Lee Tate, and medical staff that he was going to shoot them at their birthday parties and then take a picture next to them.

 

On September 6, 2011, CPD Detective Aaron Pry photographed some of the injuries that Officer Rasicot suffered as a result of Ricardo Mello's assault upon him, and these injuries included some bruising on Officer Rasicot's face.

 

Detective Pry knew that the squad car Ricardo Mello stole was worth substantially more than $5,000 and that the squad car was equipped with a computer and other expensive items.  Detective Pry also learned that there was a Remington 870 shotgun (in plain view) inside of the squad car and an M-16 rifle in the trunk of the squad car at the time Ricardo Mello stole the squad car.

 

What follows in this release are the original charges contained in the Complaint filed by the Polk County Attorney’s Office in this case:

 

Count 1:
Charge: Murder in the Second Degree - Felony Murder
In Violation Of: 609.19, Subd. 2(1)
Maximum Penalty: 40 years in prison

Ricardo Mello did cause the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello caused the death of Eddie Briggs while committing the offense of Aggravated Robbery in the First Degree, in violation of Minn. Stat. 609.245, Subd. 1; Simple Robbery, in violation of Minn. Stat. 609.24; and/or Felony Theft of a Motor Vehicle, in violation of Minn. Stat. 609.52, Subds. 2(17) and 3(3)(d)(v).  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

Count 2:
Charge: Aggravated Robbery in the First Degree
In Violation Of: 609.245, Subd. 1
Maximum Penalty: 20 years in prison, a $35,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello intentionally, feloniously, unlawfully, and while committing a robbery was armed with a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a dangerous weapon or inflicted bodily harm upon another.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello assaulted Crookston Police Department Officer Don Rasicot, inflicted bodily harm upon Officer Rasicot, and took a Crookston Police Department squad car from the person of or in the presence of Officer Rasicot, and Ricardo Mello knew that he was not entitled to take the squad car.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 3:
Charge: Simple Robbery
In Violation Of: 609.24
Maximum Penalty: 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello intentionally, feloniously, and unlawfully took personal property from the person or in the presence of another, while having knowledge that he was not entitled thereto, and used or threatened the imminent use of force against any person to overcome the person's resistance or powers of resistance to, or to compel acquiescence in, the taking or carrying away of the property.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello assaulted assaulted Crookston Police Department Officer Don Rasicot or used or threatened the imminent use of force against Officer Rasicot or Crookston Police Department Officer Ryan Bergquist to overcome their resistance; Ricardo Mello took a Crookston Police Department squad car from the person of or in the presence of Officer Rasicot or Officer Bergquist; and Ricardo Mello knew that he was not entitled to take the squad car.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 4:
Charge: Felony Theft of a Motor Vehicle
In Violation Of: 609.52, Subds. 2(17) and 3(2)
Maximum Penalty: 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello intentionally, feloniously, and unlawfully did take or drive a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or an authorized agent of the owner, knowing or having reason to know that the owner or an authorized agent of the owner did not give consent, and the value of the stolen property exceeded $5,000.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello did take or drive a squad car belonging to the Crookston Police Department without the consent of the Crookston Police Department or an authorized agent of Crookston Police Department, and the value of the squad car was more than $5,000.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 5:
Charge: Criminal Vehicular Homicide
In Violation Of: 609.21, Subds. 1(1) and 1a(a)
Maximum Penalty: 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello did cause the death of another as a result of operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello caused the death of Eddie Briggs as a result of operating a stolen squad car at an excessive rate of speed, traveling into the oncoming traffic lane, and striking the driver's side door of a vehicle being driven by Eddie Briggs.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 6:
Charge: Criminal Vehicular Operation - Great Bodily Harm
In Violation Of: 609.21, Subds. 1(1) and 1a(b)
Maximum Penalty: 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello did cause great bodily harm to another as a result of operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello caused Patricia Briggs to suffer a broken right humerus, which required surgery and the insertion of a metal plate and screws to repair, as a result of operating a stolen squad car at an excessive rate of speed, traveling into the oncoming traffic lane, and striking the driver's side door of a vehicle being driven by Eddie Briggs in which Patricia Briggs was a passenger.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 7:
Charge: Felony Assault in the Fourth Degree
In Violation Of: 609.2231, Subd. 1
Maximum Penalty: 3 years in prison, a $6,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello intentionally, feloniously, and unlawfully assaulted a peace officer licensed under Minn. Stat. 626.845, Subd. 1, when that officer was effecting a lawful arrest or executing any other duty imposed by law, and the assault inflicted demonstrable bodily harm or Ricardo Mello intentionally threw or otherwise transferred bodily fluids or feces at or onto the officer.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello struck Crookston Police Department Officer Don Rasicot in the face one or more times with his fist when Officer Rasicot was attempting to lawfully arrest and/or detain Ricardo Mello, and Officer Rasicot suffered a swollen eye or bruising as a result of Ricardo Mello's assault upon him.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

 

Count 8:
Charge: Gross Misdemeanor Obstructing Legal Process or Arrest
In Violation Of: 609.50, Subds. 1(2) and 2(2)
Maximum Penalty: 1 year in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both

Ricardo Mello intentionally and unlawfully obstructed, resisted, or interfered with a peace officer while the officer was engaged in the performance of official duties, and the act was accompanied by force or violence or the threat thereof.  More specifically, on or about September 3, 2011, Ricardo Mello obstructed, resisted, and/or interfered with Crookston Police Department Officer Ryan Bergquist's official duties by fighting with and physically resisting Officer Bergquist while Officer Bergquist was attempting to lawfully arrest and/or detain Ricardo Mello.  This offense occurred in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.