Minn. officer whose heart stopped during fight goes back to work

By Mara H. Gottfried
Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A St. Paul police officer whose heart stopped beating while tussling with a suspect on New Year's Day returned to work Monday.

David Mueller was initially in critical condition, but he quickly improved. He has been recuperating since, said Tom Walsh, a police spokesman.

Mueller, 47, had been a patrol officer in the city's Central District and was about a week away from being promoted to an acting sergeant in the department's auto theft unit. He stepped into the new position Monday, Walsh said.

What caused Mueller's heart to stop hasn't been determined, Walsh said.

Police said Charles Nackerud, 26, took a taxi from Hudson, Wis., to his home on St. Paul's West Side on Jan. 1 but didn't have enough money to pay the fare, so the driver called police.

Nackerud allegedly was combative and struggled with Mueller, who fell, hit his head, got up and then collapsed seconds later, police said.

Police arrested Nackerud on suspicion of assaulting a peace officer. The Ramsey County attorney's office declined to file a felony charge against Nackerud, and the city attorney's office is reviewing the case for lesser charges.

There was a rush to judgment of Nackerud, said Brian Karalus, the man's attorney.

"They don't even know what happened to him (Mueller) and everyone's making it sound like he's some guy who tried to kill a cop, when in fact he didn't have anything to do with him getting hurt at all," Karalus said.

Nackerud had pleaded guilty in December to driving while impaired and was slated to begin serving 30 days at the county workhouse on Jan. 8.

After his Jan. 1 arrest, Nackerud admitted he had consumed alcohol, a violation of his probation, and Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas ordered Nackerud to serve an additional 60 days.

Nackerud was released from the workhouse on Feb. 4. After a Pioneer Press reporter inquired with Rosas' office Monday about the apparent discrepancy between the sentence and time Nackerud served, a law clerk discovered a clerical error had been made and Nackerud had been released early.

Someone entered Nackerud's sentence into a computer as a total of 60 days, instead of 60 additional days, said Rosas' clerk, David Haddick. A warrant was issued for Nackerud's arrest Monday, he said.

Inmates can be released from custody for good behavior after they serve two-thirds of their time.

Copyright 2007 Pioneer Press

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