A St. Paul police officer drove through a red light, struck another vehicle with his squad car and left the scene of the accident last spring, according to two misdemeanor charges filed against the officer Monday.
Officer Vosinick "Nick" Kellum, 39, was on duty at the time, according to the police department, though the criminal complaint said he hadn't been assigned to respond to any police calls that day and there were no police calls for service in the immediate area of the incident.
Kellum, a St. Paul officer since 1999, "admitted to driving the vehicle and being involved in the incident but denied doing anything wrong," according to the criminal complaint charging him with failing to stop for a property-damage accident and failing to stop for a traffic-control signal. "He also admitted that he drove off but said he didn't hit anyone."
The complaint gives the following account:
A St. Paul police officer was dispatched to a hit-and-run accident on May 28 about noon. A woman said she was driving through the intersection on a green light, turning from southbound Wall Street onto eastbound Seventh Street when another vehicle drove eastbound on Seventh through a red light. The car's driver's-side door struck her vehicle's front bumper.
The woman said the other vehicle was a police vehicle with "Police" written on the side.
"The two vehicles stayed connected after the crash," and the driver of the car that hit her -- a man wearing a uniform -- "yelled at the victim several times to back her vehicle up," the complaint said. "The victim backed her vehicle up and the other vehicle drove away without providing any information to the victim."
The bumper of the woman's car was damaged. "The driver of the other vehicle did not get out and check either vehicle before driving off," the complaint said.
A business with surveillance cameras captured what happened. Videos showed the traffic light for eastbound Seventh Street turned red at 11:54 a.m., and eight seconds later, the squad car went through the intersection against the red light.
"The victim's vehicle stops abruptly and the other vehicle strikes her vehicle as described by the victim," the complaint said.
Police determined which squad car was involved and found "damage consistent with the crash," the complaint said.
Kellum continues to work as an officer in the ACOP (A Community Outreach Program) unit, said Sgt. Paul Paulos, a St. Paul police spokesman. It's "a community-based police outreach program with concentrated efforts" in four public-housing communities, according to the police department's website.
"The department ... is waiting to find out what the court ruling will be and then there will be an internal affairs investigation and then the chief's review of the whole situation," Paulos said.
No attorney was listed for Kellum in the court record, and Kellum didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday. He is to appear in court Oct. 30. The Minneapolis city attorney's office is handling the case to avoid a conflict of interest for the St. Paul office.
Kellum has worked in the ACOP unit since 2012 and was a K-9 officer from 2004 to 2010.
Kellum's personnel file shows six instances of discipline, including a written reprimand in 2008 for a preventable accident. He was suspended for 15 days in 2009 for incompetency. He was disciplined twice for conduct unbecoming an officer -- suspended for a day in 2000 and he received a written reprimand in 2010.
Kellum has 15 commendations, according to his personnel file. In 2009, Kellum was among five St. Paul officers and their K-9 partners who were recognized nationally as "Top Department Team."
Kellum also was one of the St. Paul K-9 officers featured on Animal Planet's show "K9 Cops" and he has been a coach for the St. Paul Police Athletic League.
Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service