No charges will be filed against a St. Paul police officer who drove into another vehicle and left the scene, according to information released this week.
Nick Kellum, who has been involved in past crashes both on- and off-duty, told investigators he had no recollection of being involved in the April off-duty collision, according to a Minnesota State Patrol report. No one was injured in the crash, which resulted in minor damage.
Kellum saw doctors afterward and was diagnosed with “partial epilepsy with impairment of consciousness,” according to medical records he provided to investigators.
The Minneapolis city attorney’s office, which reviewed the case to avoid a conflict of interest for St. Paul prosecutors, decided not to charge Kellum due to insufficient evidence, according to a city of Minneapolis spokesman.
Fred Bruno, Kellum’s attorney, said the officer “cooperated fully” with the independent investigation, conducted by the Minnesota State Patrol.
“This was ostensibly a medical issue and not a criminal event,” Bruno said Tuesday.
Kellum, who was part of the department’s gang unit at the time of the crash, was placed on paid administrative leave after the crash. He is now assigned to the department’s video-management unit.
Kellum is the subject of an open internal affairs investigation, according to his personnel file.
CRASH EARLIER THIS YEAR, IN YEARS PAST
In 2014, prosecutors charged Kellum with leaving the scene of an accident while on duty. He pleaded guilty to running a red light and prosecutors dropped the other charge, saying they had insufficient evidence to pursue the hit-and-run charge. He was disciplined at the police department.
In 2015, a 911 caller reported a St. Paul police SUV swerving on Interstate 94 before striking the freeway wall near Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, according to the State Patrol. The vehicle was found at 21st Street and Penn Avenue in Minneapolis and the driver, identified as Kellum, taken to the hospital.
In February, Kellum was involved in a crash when he was going to work in a police department vehicle. He hit a patch of ice and struck the center barrier on Interstate 35E, according to a police department memo.
Kellum’s supervisor issued him an oral reprimand, saying the department’s accident review board determined the crash was caused by driving inattentively and too fast for conditions, the memo said.
After the February crash, the police department issued Kellum a Jeep Cherokee, which he was driving at the time of April’s collision.
OFFICER WAS ‘DUMBFOUNDED’ WHEN SUPERVISOR ASKED ABOUT CRASH
On April 26, shortly after 1 p.m., a St. Paul officer responded to a report of a hit-and-run crash on White Bear Avenue near Third Street. A man driving a van told the officer he was so concerned “about the safety of others, that he had to contact police to get this dangerous driver off the street,” according to a St. Paul police report.
A Jeep twice bumped his van’s rear bumper while they were traveling 33 to 35 mph, the man reported. He watched the Jeep pull into a nearby gas station, and called police.
Surveillance footage showed the Jeep’s driver buy a fountain drink at the gas station and drive away. A St. Paul officer who viewed the video reported to the State Patrol that the man in the store was Kellum.
When Kellum talked to State Patrol investigators, he said he had dropped off laundry and then stopped at the gas station to get a drink because “his mouth became dry and he was extremely thirsty,” according to a State Patrol report released by the Minneapolis city attorney’s office.
A St. Paul police sergeant told the State Patrol that Kellum had not reported the crash to his supervisors and he found the Jeep freshly washed outside police headquarters.
That afternoon, a police commander called Kellum and asked “if he was okay following his accident,” Kellum told the State Patrol. “He stated he was ‘dumbfounded’ and didn’t know what (she) was talking about.”
Another officer told the State Patrol he saw Kellum about 2:35 or 2:40 p.m., before Kellum started his shift, and Kellum ” ‘froze’ and started shaking as he was reaching into his bag lunch,” according to the incident report. The officer said Kellum was initially unresponsive as he shouted his name and shook him; he encouraged him to get checked out by a doctor.
Kellum told investigators he had seizures in the past and had been taking prescription seizure medication since about 2003, according to the State Patrol report.