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Fleeing officer is charged

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The Dakota County Sheriff's Department has charged Paul Michael Kowalenko, 23, Newport, with one count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle following a Dec. 14 incident near Vermillion. According to the criminal complaint, Dakota County deputies were on routine patrol in the area of Northfield Boulevard and 200th Street when they observed a vehicle drive off Northfield Boulevard into the ditch and extinguish its lights. As deputies approached the pick-up truck, it put its lights back and began to drive away. The deputies activated their emergency lights. At that point the truck driver accelerated rapidly and drove off in the field.

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A pursuit followed, and deputies lost sight of the vehicle. However, they located it in a driveway of a residence on Inga Avenue. The homeowners said the truck did not belong to them, but to Kowalenko. At about the same time, two people ran out of a garage. One was Kowalenko.

When questioned, Kowalenko said he had been driving the truck and thought he was on property owned by the party giver. He said he did not see the emergency lights. He drove to the Inga Avenue residence. As he exited the truck, he saw the squad cars. He hid because he was afraid, he said.

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