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Hills man charged with use of deadly force on peace officer

Thomas John Ranfranz

LUVERNE -- A Hills man who has faced alcohol-related driving charges several times in the past 12 years and is currently on probation for driving while impaired is now accused of drunk driving, fleeing a peace officer and the use of deadly force against a peace officer.

Thomas John Ranfranz, 34, of Hills, formerly of Rochester, was arrested Sunday after a vehicle chase that reportedly began in Luverne, crossed the border into Iowa and ended in Ellsworth after a state trooper performed a pursuit termination maneuver.

The complaint states authorities were dispatched to the Vern Drive-In concerning a man who was allegedly being loud and appeared intoxicated. The initial report stated the man was allegedly offering his young teenaged passenger beer.

A Rock County deputy headed toward the drive-in, but was told the vehicle was leaving. The deputy headed southbound on U.S. 75 and caught up to a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect's car. The deputy observed the vehicle allegedly swerve across the fog line and center lane, then the driver put on its turn signal. The deputy activated his lights to initiate a stop, but the vehicle continued on.

As the vehicle reached speeds near 70 miles per hour, a second deputy joined the chase. The vehicle continued into Iowa, where more deputies joined the pursuit. Shortly before entering Ellsworth on Minnesota 91, a state trooper joined the chase.

The vehicle finally stopped in Ellsworth, and a Rock County deputy exited his squad and drew his firearm. The deputy then observed the reverse lights on the vehicle activate and heard the motor rev up. He attempted to jump back into his squad car for protection as the vehicle allegedly struck his squad on the driver's side. The suspect then allegedly accelerated away and continued to flee until the trooper performed the maneuver that ended the chase, causing the pursued vehicle to spin backward and roll into a yard on South Walnut Street.

The driver, identified as Ranfranz, was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed, but continued to resist, allegedly kicking an Iowa deputy in the face. Ranfranz was secured in a squad in leg shackles, and the passenger was later identified as his son. The child indicated to authorities he had tried to tell his father to stop several times during the chase and said they had been at several places during the day.

Inside the vehicle, authorities found numerous full, empty and partially empty alcohol containers.

At the law enforcement center, Ranfranz was read his rights and contacted an attorney. He refused to take a breath test, allegedly stating he would only take an alternative test.

In 2000, Ranfranz was arrested in Olmsted County for driving impaired, test refusal and leaving the scene of an accident. He has domestic assault, obstructing justice, possession of drug paraphernalia and .15 excess alcohol convictions in Olmsted County and the 2007 Rock County driving while impaired conviction, for which he was sentenced to seven years of probation.

On Tuesday, he was charged with use of deadly force against a peace officer, driving while impaired, test refusal, fleeing a peace officer, fourth-degree assault on a peace officer, driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety and open bottle. Bond was set at $30,000.