Man accused of assaulting Breckenridge police officer charged with three felonies
October 9, 2018
The suspect accused of attacking a Breckenridge police officer during an early morning confrontation this July was formally charged following a preliminary hearing at the Summit County Justice Center last week.
Nathan Finnegan, 21, was charged with three felonies including two counts of first-degree assault on a peace officer and one count of criminal mischief after a hearing that brought testimony from the officer who was assaulted.
At around 1:45 a.m. on July 21, Breckenridge police officer Jennifer Kruse responded to the scene of a motor vehicle crash on the corner of Highway 9 and Highlands Drive where she found Finnegan in the roadway. Kruse stopped to perform a welfare check when Finnegan allegedly began acting violently, hitting Kruse in the face and knocking her to the ground with injuries.
Kruse was able to call for backup during the initial confrontation, and officers from the Breckenridge Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff's Office arrived to arrest Finnegan. Kruse was taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
During the confrontation Kruse suffered a traumatic brain injury that included a loss of consciousness, said District Attorney Bruce Brown. In addition, she also suffered a neck injury and a laceration above her eye, which caused temporary vision issues. She was released from the hospital within hours and returned to active duty just days later.
"She continues to experience residual pain, particularly in relation to the head trauma that she suffered," said Brown. "Despite that, she is currently on the job performing her duties to serve the people of Summit County in her capacity as a peace officer. … She's a trooper, and wanted to get right back out and do her job."
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Finnegan will return to District Court on Thursday and is expected to enter a plea.
According to Brown, assaults on law enforcement officers are an ever-growing concern.
"While it's rare in Summit County for an officer to be assaulted, particularly with this level of injuries, it's becoming more common and more concerning," said Brown. "Officers put their lives on the line every time they go into the community to patrol or respond to a call for help, and they deserve to do their job without suffering injury or threats of harm."
The assault of Kruse is one of several instances of a police officer being assaulted in Summit County over the last couple years. Brown said several are yet to be adjudicated. Robert Larson is set to head to trial in February in connection with an assault on a Summit County sheriff's deputy last year. James Patrick Morrow will have a disposition hearing on Nov. 5 after allegedly assaulting a Dillon officer in November. And Nathaniel Liesz is expected to attend a hearing later this week to determine his competency to stand trial after allegedly attempting to assault a Frisco officer, state patrol deputy and sheriff's deputy with a weapon on Christmas 2016.
"The anecdotal trend is that we're seeing more people resist arrest and more people being physical when they're facing arrest," continued Brown. "When I see three or four cases within a year where officers have been injured, that causes me grave concern."
But the trend doesn't stop in Summit County. The Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps detailed data of assaults through the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted program. As of Oct. 9, 47 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed (not by accident) in 2018, compared to only 36 officers at this time last year. Of the 47 killed, nine were ambushed and one was the victim of a completely unprovoked attack.
"We are not going to stand idly by while officers are targeted," said Brown. "Police take an oath to protect the public and it is unacceptable that they will be targeted by those they are sworn to protect. Police deserve thanks, not thumps."