A check with the Fergus Falls Police Department Monday morning into their investigation of Friday’s tragic accident at Union and Cavour Avenues had only limited insights to offer.
As a Fergus Falls Police Department release disclosed on Saturday, the incident is under investigation by the Fergus Falls Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol. The FFPD is holding a criminal investigation. The State Patrol is investigating the crash.
It is routine law enforcement policy to disclose evidence gathered only after an active investigation has been closed.
Any charges forthcoming against Freitag will come from the Fergus Falls Police Department. Prosecution of the charges will be handled through the Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office.
The Daily Journal learned Monday afternoon the two deputies involved in the pursuit have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the completion of the investigations.
According to 2019 state statutes, a policy exists to govern law enforcement in vehicle pursuits. It states that “law enforcement agencies shall make reasonable efforts to guide their officers in the safe and responsible performance of their emergency response duties.”
After the two investigations are complete, a sheriff’s office spokesman said the OTCSO will carry out an administrative investigation.
Fergus Falls Police Sergeant Jeff Hohrman would not comment on the events Friday evening in which a Fergus Falls couple, Steve and Diane Christianson, were killed when their 2007 Toyota Camry was struck by a 2007 Chrysler Town and Country van driven by Cody Freitag, while he was being pursued by units of the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office.
Documents from the Otter Tail County’s Court Administration Department Monday morning disclosed 11 different cases involving Freitag since August, 2009. The 30-year-old Fergus Falls man had warrants out for his arrest that included felony drug crimes, felony theft, felony fleeing, domestic assault and obstructing the legal process according to Saturday’s release.
The most recent court-recorded offense by Freitag prior to Friday’s tragedy was a 2019 conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor. Court records also disclosed that Freitag has served jail time on several occasions.
Sgt. Hohrman told The Daily Journal the investigation is continuing and the importance of it to friends and family are well-appreciated by all law enforcement investigators involved. Hohrman made it clear that local news media outlets would be contacted in the future with another release.
Friday’s pursuit began at approximately 6:42 p.m. when Freitag fled from a Fergus Falls convenience store after realizing he had been lured to the spot by Otter Tail County deputies.
The Christiansons, who resided on North Marien Street, were heading north on Union Avenue Friday when Freitag’s vehicle approached the Cavour-Union intersection from the west at an accelerated rate of speed and went through a stop sign. In the collision that followed, both vehicles were propelled into a parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection. The Christiansons were both pronounced dead at the accident scene. Freitag received serious but non-life threatening injuries according to emergency teams responding to the crash. He was transported to a Fargo hospital according to Saturday’s release.