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CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that the St. Croix Tribal Police Department is the primary agency and the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance.
BURNETT COUNTY -- Criminal charges have been filed again Brian Bearheart, of Webster, WI, and Sheldon Thayer, of Danbury, WI, after they allegedly fled from Law Enforcement during a high-speed pursuit on June 26, 2022.
Shortly after 6p on June 26, 2022, a St. Croix Tribal Police Sergeant on duty in their squad observed Bearheart exiting a vehicle and entering a residence at an apartment complex on Angeline Avenue in Webster, WI.
St. Croix Tribal Police had knowledge that Bearheart was not allowed on the premises of that apartment complex and waited in the vicinity. A short time later, the suspect vehicle was seen leaving the premises, and Bearheart was seen inside the vehicle in the front passenger seat.
After the vehicle traveled by the St. Croix Tribal Police squad car, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed, according to a criminal complaint filed in Burnett County Circuit Court. The St. Croix Tribal Sergeant engaged in a pursuit of the suspect vehicle and activated emergency lights and sirens.
The vehicle did not stop but instead continued to allegedly flee from the Tribal Police Officer at speeds up to 70 mph in a 35 mph speed zone. The vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign, and proceeded east on Birch Haven before turning and traveling north on County Road X. The pursuit reached speeds of 100 mph at this time. The criminal complaint states that several times the suspect vehicle was traveling in the wrong lane and nearly struck another vehicle head-on. At one point, a bottle of vodka was thrown from the suspect vehicle toward the St. Croix Tribal Police Officer’s squad car and smashed in the roadway.
Spike strips were set up by the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office in the hope of stopping the suspect vehicle, and the vehicle did strike the strips, however, continued fleeing. A short time later pursuing officers observed the front and rear left tires of the vehicle deflating. Following this, the suspect vehicle lost control and entered a ditch. The pursuit had lasted 12 miles according to the criminal complaint.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Thayer, and the front passenger was confirmed to be Bearheart. A juvenile was located in the rear seat of the vehicle, intoxicated, and wearing a backpack that contained two bottles of vodka.
Law enforcement ordered Bearheart to exit the vehicle, however, when the door was opened, he fell from the vehicle and did not move. Thayer shouted that Bearheart was “drunk”. Thayer was unable to open the driver’s door to exit the vehicle and he was instructed to exit the vehicle by crawling through and out the passenger door. Thayer and Bearheart were placed under arrest and the Juvenile was taken into protective custody.
Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to the scene to provide care for Bearheart, who was initially unresponsive but breathing okay. Emergency Medical Technicians were able to awaken Bearheart, but the criminal complaint states that his demeanor was sluggish and his speech was slurred. When asked if he had consumed any drugs, Bearheart allegedly stated “meth”, but denied any use of heroin. Bearheart was transported for medical care.
Thayer was transported to the Burnett County Jail, and allegedly stated that he “just wanted to see how fast my car would go”.
Charges of Class I Felony Vehicle Operator Flee/Elude Officer, Repeater; Class F Felony 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Repeater; Class I Felony Harboring/Aiding a Felon; and Misdemeanor Intent. Contribute/Delinquency Child, Party to a Crime were filed against Thayer. Noncriminal citations for Reckless Driving-Endanger Safety; Non-Registration of Vehicle - Auto <10,000 lbs; Fail/Stop at Stop Sign were also filed against Thayer.
Online circuit court records show that at a hearing on June 27, 2022, the Hon. Melissia Mogen ordered a $2,000 cash bond for Thayer. He appeared most recently on July 13, 2022, while in custody for an initial appearance hearing. Defense counsel for Thayer proposed a motion for modification of his bond, however, Judge Mogen denied that motion. Another motion hearing regarding the modification of Thayer’s bond was held on July 26, 2022. Thayer again appeared while in custody, and Judge Mogen once again denied the motion. Thayer is scheduled to appear again in August 2022.
Bearheart is charged with Class G Felony 2nd-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety; 9 counts of Class H Felony Bail Jumping; Misdemeanor Intent. Contribute/Delinquency Child, Party to a Crime; Misdemeanor Resisting or Obstructing an Officer; and Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct.
At a hearing on June 27, 2022, Judge Mogen ordered that Bearheart must post an additional $10,000 cash in order to be released from custody. Online court records indicate that the bond for Bearheart covers numerous felony-level court cases already filed against him in Burnett County Circuit Court and his bonds total $48,750.
The additional Burnett County Circuit Court cases filed against Bearheart include 53 counts of Class H Felony Bail Jumping; 4 counts of Class G Felony Possess Firearm-Convicted of a Felony; Class F Felony 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety; Class G Felony 2nd-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety; Class I Felony Vehicle Operator Flee/Elude Officer; Class I Felony Fail/Comply-Officer/Person into Custody; 4 counts of Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct; 2 counts of Misdemeanor Theft; Misdemeanor Operate Firearm While Intoxicated; Misdemeanor Discharge Firearm w/in 100 Yards/Bldg; Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass to Dwelling; Misdemeanor Resisting or Obstructing an Officer; Misdemeanor Resisting/Failing to Stop; Misdemeanor Possess Drug Paraphernalia; and non-criminal charges for Mistreatment of Animals and Trespass to Land-Remain after Notice.
DrydenWire reported In December 2019 on one of those cases that charges Bearheart for allegedly discharging a firearm and endangering the safety of another person.
Bearheart appeared most recently in Burnett County Circuit Court regarding his criminal charges on July 25, 2022, while in custody, and is scheduled to appear again in August 2022.
DrydenWire also previously reported in October 2021 that Bearheart had been arrested in August 2021 following an incident that occurred at Spooner Health in Spooner, WI, and later charged in Washburn County Circuit Court with Class I Felony Terrorist Threats, and three counts of Class H Felony Bail Jumping.
Those charges are still pending against Bearheart, in addition to charges in yet another Washburn County Court case in which Bearheart is charged with 6 counts of Class H Felony Bail Jumping. He is set to appear again in Washburn County Circuit Court in September 2022.
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Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.