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Questions remain about man who fled from police

BEMIDJI – Three facts are known about the man who fled from police Wednesday night: he was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo to be treated for his injuries, he was evicted from his Blackduck residence in July and he has a virtually non-existent criminal history in Beltrami County that involves only minor misdemeanors.

   What is not known is why Jeramie Pilecki fled, causing five police agencies to join the Bemidji Police Department in its pursuit, or why he was in the city after apparently moving to California.

   “We have a theory,” said Beltrami County Chief Deputy Ernie Beitel. “But as an ongoing investigation that information can’t be released.”

   Pilecki, 36, was taken into custody just before 7 p.m. Wednesday. His sport-utility vehicle with California plates was badly damaged after he lost control and careened into a ditch off Wildwood Road Northeast. He then ran into a wooded area and was arrested a short time later, police said.

   His injuries were substantial enough to require immediate medical attention, preventing police from interrogating him Wednesday night. Officers with the Bemidji Police Department travelled to Fargo Thursday to speak with Pilecki, whose condition was not released.

   In a statement, Bemidji police Capt. James Marcotte said an officer with his department attempted to stop Pilecki for a traffic violation. Pilecki took off, and the officer “pursued the vehicle at high rates of speed through residential neighborhoods.”

   What traffic violation Pilecki allegedly committed was not released, and Marcotte did not return a call for comment.

   Pilecki reached speeds approaching 100 mph, according to police, but Beitel said his officers followed protocol in joining in the pursuit.

   “It’s a critical decision that a deputy makes in unpredictable circumstances,” he said.

   In all pursuits, Beitel said, the apprehension of an unknown person has to be weighed against the danger to the public that comes with high speeds.

   “We understand that vehicle pursuits are not predictable,” he said. “The first thing that comes to mind is the other travelling public. There’s no need to risk a life.”

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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