ST. PAUL (AP) -- A Duluth police officer won his case before the state Supreme Court and was cleared Thursday of wrongdoing in a 1997 Hermantown hit-and-run case involving his friends.
The high court agreed with an appellate panel, which ruled earlier that Kevin Tomlin didn't physically obstruct other officers from investigating a crash that hurt Lee Kalfsbeek, Hermantown, and killed Kalfsbeek's dog. Kalfsbeek was walking on a road near his home.
Tomlin was convicted in 1999, fined $250 and ordered to serve 40 hours of community service for lying to protect a friend who was at the wheel when their pickup truck struck Kalfsbeek. Tomlin had been drinking with Scott Soderholm before the crash.
In his opinion, Justice James Gilbert wrote that Tomlin's conduct didn't rise to the level of obstruction.
"Many of Tomlin's statements were lies and may have interrupted the officers' activities during their investigation," he wrote. "However, we cannot find any instance in the record where Tomlin's lies and omissions physically obstructed the officers."
Tomlin had testified that he stopped to comfort the injured man but made a "conscious decision" not to volunteer any information to authorities because he didn't want to get his friends into trouble. He was off duty at the time.
A total of four people pleaded guilty or stood trial in the case.
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