The Minnesota State Trooper who rammed a slow-moving minivan on New Year's Eve was given a slap on the wrist Wednesday. A written reprimand was placed in the personnel folder of Sergeant Carrie Rindal, mildly criticizing her for twice slamming her patrol car into the Toyota Sienna minivan belonging to Sam Salter, 40, who had been driving his two, three and six-year-old children home to Hudson, Wisconsin just before midnight on Interstate 94 in St. Paul.
With rock music blaring in her squad car, Rindal activated her police lights and siren to chase after the man she claimed had made a lane change without signaling. Salter is seen in the video carefully pulling toward the right, turn signal on, within ten seconds. Salter, concerned for his family's safety, did not want to pull into the snow-filled highway shoulder. He took less than a minute to reach the exit to Highway 61, driving slowly. Twenty-two seconds later, as Salter turned onto Burns Avenue away from the high-speed traffic, Rindal rammed the minivan from the side and then once more from behind.
"What are you doing?" Salter screamed as he exited the minivan. "I have three kids in my car and you just hit me."
Rindal held the man at gunpoint while his children watched their father placed under arrest. Salter was incarcerated for the next 37 hours for making an illegal lane change and "eluding police." His damaged car was also impounded and he was mailed a $130 ticket, even though prosecutors declined to charge him for any crime. A police review board investigating the incident supported Rindal on her choice of a gunpoint arrest and suggested there were places on the icy highway where Salter could have stopped. The board did not, however, believe Salter was fleeing police during the one minute-twenty second low-speed chase. For that, the state police chief labeled the entire incident "regrettable."
Salter was not interested in pursuing a long legal battle, so he only asked for $9500 to cover his direct expenses from the incident, including legal bills, repair bills and the time lost with his family. The State Patrol accepted the settlement.