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Bemidji man charged with deputy assault and three other felonies

A 20-year-old Bemidji man has been charged with four felonies following a Monday incident during which he allegedly assaulted a Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy.

Gerome James Winkler was charged Wednesday in Beltrami County District Court with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer with demonstratable bodily hard, fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle and aiding and abetting third-degree burglary.

He remained in the Beltrami County Jail Wednesday afternoon.

Winkler is accused of stealing a vehicle from the Hubbard County area. He was a passenger in the vehicle when Beltrami County law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Scenic Highway and Power Dam Road.

According to the criminal complaint:

The vehicle was stopped early Monday morning after it was reported at 1:18 a.m. to have been possibly involved in a suspected burglary on the 6800 block of Mokros Lane.

A law enforcement officer approached the passenger door of the Ford Taurus when it was stopped and was told the door was broken and it would not open. Winkler was then advised to slide out of the vehicle through the driver's door.

Winkler got into the driver's seat and positioned himself as if he was going to drive away. A deputy on scene grabbed him and attempted to remove him from the vehicle while also attempting to shut off the vehicle. The deputy and Winkler began to fight for control of the gear shift.

The deputy heard the engine rev up and the Taurus took off at a high rate of speed.

Due to the speed, the deputy did not feel comfortable jumping from the vehicle. He grabbed Winkler's head and began trying to put the vehicle into park.

Winkler punched the deputy repeatedly in the head and face. The deputy then pushed a finger into Winkler's eye socket.

The vehicle began to slow down and the deputy was able to gain control and steer it toward a ditch.

Winkler refused to get out of the vehicle when ordered to do so. The deputy used a Taser but was unable to incapacitate Winkler. Another peace officer on the scene deployed his Taser and Winkler was taken into custody.