Michael Denn, 57, Grantsburg, was arrested in February of 2018. He is facing five felony charges, three misdemeanor charges and a number of traffic violations stemming from a high-speed chase last year.
He is scheduled to have a plea hearing for the case Oct. 8.
Denn has been charged with class H felony offenses of battery to a law enforcement officer, escape, and attempting to disarm a peace officer. He is also charged with two class I felonies for possession of methamphetamine and attempting to flee or elude a traffic officer. Additionally, he has been charged with misdemeanor offenses of two counts of resisting an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is also facing six traffic violations stemming from the incident.
According to the criminal complaint, Sergeant Ryan Bybee drove past Denn’s driveway on County Road M on Feb. 16, 2018 around 10:15 p.m. He knew it was Denn’s driveway because of previous contacts and that Denn had a “documented criminal history relating to burglary, theft and drug trafficking.”
At that time, Bybee noticed a suspicious van parked near the driveway, but was en route to another case in Trade Lake. Around 11:23 p.m., after clearing the scene, Bybee was patrolling north on Lakewood Drive when he saw the same van and followed it.
He observed the van accelerate and began driving erratically, crossing into the oncoming traffic lane before slowing down to 10 mph, Bybee activated his emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop. The van’s registration came back to Denn’s daughter. Upon approach, Bybee could not determine the number of occupants in the van due to window tinting and he requested Deputy Olson to respond to the scene for officer safety.
Bybee contacted the driver, who he recognized as Michael Denn. Bybee explained to Denn that he had pulled him over for erratic driving and his rear license plate lamp was not working. Denn became very argumentative and started yelling that nothing was wrong with his vehicle. Bybee then noticed Denn had fresh sores on his face and hands, his eyes were red and glassy with dilated pupils. Bybee asked if he had consumed any intoxicants that evening. Denn said no, but failed to answer a subsequent question on the last time he had used meth. He also refused to take a field sobriety test, began arguing with Bybee and said he was leaving.
Olson and police canine Tracker were attempting to do an exterior sniff of the vehicle. When Denn saw Tracker he yelled, “You’re not going to search my van!” He than ran toward it, allegedly pushed Bybee backwards as he attempted to block his path, got into the van, turned it on and quickly accelerated.
Bybee went after the van, he noted that Denn was driving 55 mph in a 25 mph zone, crossing the center line, and almost crashing into the bridge between Little Trade Lake and Big Trade Lake. Eventually, Denn entered a driveway on Pickerel Point, and Bybee entered the driveway and blocked Denn’s door.
Bybee exited his squad car and ordered Denn to show his hands. Denn held up his hands and was holding a cell phone. Dispatch then told Bybee that Denn had called 911.
When Denn failed to comply with directions to unlock his van door, Bybee used his baton to break the window on the driver’s side. Denn lunged at Bybee, who deployed his taser into Denn’s chest. Bybee deployed the taser a second time as Denn continued to resist, but Denn was able to remove both taser probes.
Deputy Olson then opened the passenger side door and attempted to remove Denn from the vehicle, but he pulled away and appeared to be about to start the van. Believing Denn was about to drive away, Olson struck Denn once on the right forearm with his baton.
At this point, Denn exited the van and Bybee used his taser to drive stun Denn’s back. Denn attempted to gain control of the taser, but Bybee was able to pull it away from him. Attempting to escape by running between the van and squad car, Denn allegedly began fighting with Olson and they both went to the ground. Bybee struck Denn on his hip and buttocks with his baton in an attempt to subdue him, as Denn had Olson on the ground.
After a short skirmish Bybee pressed his taser into Denn’s lower back and told him he would tase him if he did not comply. Denn put his arms behind his back and was placed under arrest.
Two days later, a search of the van yielded a glass meth pipe with burnt residue, a metal spoon with unknown residue and various burglarious tools - including a headlamp and pry bar.
During the search, Bybee noted the interior door panels and trim had been previously removed and re-attached with wood screws and duct tape. This type of tampering of interior trim and panels is consistent with vehicles used for trafficking drugs. No further contraband was found in the vehicle.
Bybee monitored a phone call the next day where Denn said something about the passenger side door before the bridge. The person on the other line said, “Yea it snowed so it’s going to be a little more difficult.”
Believing those directions corresponded with his pursuit route with Denn, Bybee and six members of the Sheriff’s Department went to the bridge and searched the area using rakes for two hours that evening but were unable to locate anything.
The following day, a member of the Sheriff’s Auxiliary told Bybee they had found contraband near the bridge in the area they were searching.
Detective Julie Mead met with the auxiliary member who found the black tape wrapped container, the size and shape of a travel toothbrush holder.
Mead brought the item back to the sheriff’s department. Inside was a clear glass bubble-style smoking device with white residue and a clear plastic gem-style zip locked bag containing .53 grams of a clear crystalline substance. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine/MDMA using a field test kit.
If convicted on all felony counts, he faces a possible $10,000 fine and a potential three years and six months imprisonment for each class H charge and $10,000 fine and a possible six months imprisonment for each class I charge.