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Attorney Peter Berge Will Not Be Charged with Felony for Hitting Runner
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Hit and Run

Summary: An attorney in St. Paul will not be charged with a felony for fatally striking a runner with his car.

A high-profile attorney out of St. Paul, Minnesota will not be charged with a felony after he struck a runner with his car, killing the man. The Star Tribune reported the announcement from the Hennepin County attorney’s office, dismissing allegations that attorney Peter Berge was distracted while driving.

  
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Berge was driving late in the afternoon on February 22, 2017, on Mississippi River Boulevard at Dayton Avenue when he struck Scott Spoo, 35. Berge had been involved in a fender-bender just before the incident and was drifting into the wrong lane multiple times just before hitting Spoo in the crosswalk.

It turns out that Berge is suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer and this was the “cause of his impaired behavior.” Police suspected that Berge was under the influence of something or on his phone at the time of the incident. However, Berge had no drugs or alcohol in his system, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. The evidence also showed that Berge had not been on his phone since 4:26 pm. The accident happened at 4:39 pm.

Freeman explained, “Had Mr. Berge been drinking or if he had fled the scene, we could have charged him with criminal vehicular homicide. That was not the case. There was no evidence of gross negligence, either.”

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While Berge is not facing a felony, he could still be charged with a misdemeanor of some level. Police spokesman Steve Linders stated that “the case will be presented to the city attorney’s office for charging consideration.”

Berge’s attorney Charles Hawkins said, “We are appreciative of the county attorney’s evaluation of the case and willingness to have a little input from us.” Berge’s other attorney, Robert Hopper, explained how Berge’s condition would affect his abilities. He said the glioblastoma “caused a narrowing of his field of vision and he could not see the runner until the runner had run out in front of him.”



County attorney spokesman Chuck Laszewski acknowledged the “medical condition would have made it very difficult for us to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the death was caused by his gross negligence.”

When the accident occurred, Berge was the ethics chairman for the Hennepin County Bar Association and the web director for Minnesota Continuing Legal Education. Before the incident, Berge had resigned from the web director job.

Spoo attended West Point Military Academy before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he graduated. He obtained a master’s from the University of Minnesota, working for 11 years with 3M in Twin Cities and as an engineer. He was a running and bicycling enthusiast that “worked to bring more awareness to bicycle safety for both bicyclists and motorists,” according to his obituary.

His mother said in response to if she was upset about there being no charges, “I really hadn’t been thinking about that. Everything was just going on and on and on. I prefer to focus on his friends and things they did for him.”

Do you think he should be charged with something? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about others in the legal industry with hit-and-run legal incidents, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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