A Mound woman accused of striking and killing a Wayzata police officer with her SUV is being held on $500,000 bail. Beth Freeman, 54, made her first court appearance Tuesday and was assigned a public defender.
Freeman has been charged with three counts, including criminal vehicular homicide, in the death of Officer Bill Mathews. She told police investigators she had been using her cell phone when the crash happened.
"It's very clear she was distracted while driving and she wasn't paying attention to what's going on and tragically, a Wayzata police officer was killed," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. The county attorney is not related to Beth Freeman.
Meanwhile, a video posted to former NFL player Tyrone Carter's Twitter feed shows two people, presumably Carter and Beth Freeman, shortly after the Highway 12 crash. A link in the feed says, "My God my God please touch this situation right here..." It's not clear who shot the video.
What follows is a transcript:
A woman is sobbing.
Man, off camera: "It's OK, it's OK."
Woman: "Oh, it is not OK."
He's holding her around the shoulder as she cries into his chest.
Man: "Yeah, I know. I know but you can't, but you can't run yourself crazy right now, we just gotta try to make sure you're OK. You gotta relax. You gotta relax."
Man: "Is this your car?"
Man: "Well, he stopped somebody else?"
Woman: "No, he had stopped and he was in the middle of this street. All of a sudden I looked up and he was right there."
Man: "Oh, man."
Woman: "Oh my god, I'm going to jail."
Man: "You gotta relax, you gotta relax ma'am. Just gotta sit down and relax."
Woman starts to walk from the back of the car, it appears to the driver's side.
Man: "Don't go in the road, don't go in the road, don't go in the road."
Woman climbs in the passenger side as camera pans to four people bent over someone lying in a dark uniform on the ground. Sirens sound in the distance.
Criminal charges released Monday cited a video in which Freeman said she, 'looked up and saw he was there.'
A visitation and funeral for Officer Mathews are planned for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, at Wayzata Free Church in Plymouth. The department also has started an Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Fund at a Wells Fargo branch, 900 Wayzata Blvd. East.
Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold spoke to the tragedy of losing a beloved officer.
"It will forever bond the members of this department and our families," Wayzata chief Mike Risvold said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Risvold also read a letter from Mathews' family saying he "was proud to perform his duty as an officer in the communities of Wayzata and Long Lake, protecting and serving without hesitation." The letter from Shawn and Wyatt Mathews said they will "miss his laugh, his hugs and his uncanny ability to fix anything."
The letter ended: "You will always be our hero."