A Minneapolis man who admitted to hitting two Army recruiters in a crosswalk at Roseville Mall, dragging one for nearly a mile, has been charged with three counts of criminal vehicular operation. Two of those charges are felonies.
Enrico Taylor, 52, of Minneapolis, made his first appearance at the Law Enforcement Center at 1:20 p.m. on Thursday to be formally charged in the crash, which left 42-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Travis Torgerson with a broken leg, tailbone and several broken ribs.
"The defendant displayed a blatant disregard for the life of both victims and he is clearly a threat to our community," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said of Taylor, whom investigators referred to as a "Minnesota menace" in conversations with FOX 9 News.
Torgerson remains in the intensive care unit at HCMC, where he is listed in satisfactory condition. Aside from the broken bones, he also suffered numerous abrasions to his tailbone and lower back. Torgerson's wife told investigators those injuries will require several skin grafts.
According to charges, police were called to the Kohl's located at 1651 County Road B2 at about 1:40 p.m. after multiple 911 callers reported a hit-and-run -- and that a pedestrian was being dragged under a Jeep with Minnesota license plate number 171-LNG.
Responding officers hurried to the SUV's last known location -- the intersection of CR B2 and Prior Avenue North. Once they arrived, they found Torgerson laying face-down in the southbound lane of Prior Avenue. His uniform was badly tattered and police say he was bleeding from multiple areas, including a deep wound to his back.
Despite his condition, Torgerson was conscious and identified himself. He told police he had just finished lunch and was walking back to the recruiting office when he was hit, run over, and his boot became stuck in the rear axle.
At one point, Taylor stopped, got out of his Jeep and attempted to loose Torgerson from with his foot but failed. Torgerson said Taylor then got back in the driver's seat and hit the gas again.
Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud, 29, was also struck in the crosswalk with Torgerson. He told police he made eye contact with Taylor, but that he never slowed down. Instead, Taylor's Jeep hit the two while traveling at about 10 to 12 miles per hour. Stroud said he rolled over the hood and fell to the side before he noticed Torgerson was trapped underneath.
Witnesses said they saw Torgerson clinging to the rear bumper of the Jeep, screaming for help. Witnesses also watched as Taylor stopped a second time and tried to pull Torgerson away. Witnesses said when he could not, Taylor again continued driving south on Fairview Avenue, then onto County Road B2. Torgerson eventually dislodged himself at Prior Avenue, and Taylor proceeded to drive away.
Roseville police found the Jeep in a Motel 6 parking lot and spoke to staff, who said Taylor had requested a cab and then left on foot, heading toward the Wally McCarthy Cadillac dealership. That's where officers located and arrested him.
Upon his arrest, Taylor said he was meeting somebody at the Motel 6 and denied driving the Jeep. Ten minutes following the police interview, Taylor told officers he wished to speak to them again and said he was concerned about the man he hit, and said "I freaked out because my license is suspended. I turned the corner coming up the hill. I got a contact in, the light blinded me, I didn't see him, he stepped in front of me, it was too late."
Taylor acknowledged that he heard cars and people screaming, but said he was in a panic. He told police he kept driving but could hear a voice coming from behind the vehicle, and said the victim told him his leg was stuck once he stopped. Though he tried to free him, he admitted fleeing again once other vehicles began to pull up behind.
When police told Taylor that he had dragged Torgerson nearly a mile, he began to cry. He told officers he was concerned for the man but was also trying to protect himself.
When police asked for the keys for the vehicle, Taylor said he had placed them in the cheeks of his buttocks and flushed them while in the holding cell. He denied taking any drugs or drinking alcohol on the day of the incident, but admitted to taking cocaine Sunday and drinking vodka and beer on Monday.
Torgerson's wife told police he fractured his tibia and fibula and had two rods placed in his right leg, a plate in his right heel.
If convicted on all counts, Taylor faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, a $23,000 fine, or both.
Taylor has an extensive criminal history in Minnesota dating back to 1988 that includes convictions for the following:
- Check Forgery
- Domestic assault
- Felony drug convictions
- Fleeing police in a motor vehicle
- Giving peace officers a false name
- Terroristic threats
- Theft by swindle
- Violating orders for protection
Investigators say he has used as many as 17 aliases, and though they hope to bolster their case against him, Roseville Police Chief Rick Mathwig told FOX 9 News he fears Taylor will be back on the streets again.
"In the Minnesota catch-and-release legal system, he will be out," Mathwig predicted. "He will never serve enough time."