MINNEAPOLIS - Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the trial of Stearns County commissioner Mark Bromenschenkel, who is accused in a civil lawsuit of causing injuries to a man while he was a Sartell police officer.
The city of Sartell also is a defendant in the lawsuit filed in May 2011 by Brian Paul Manion, accusing Bromenschenkel of starting a vehicle chase that ended in a crash and injuries.
Manion said the incident happened when Bromenschenkel tried to serve a notice of intent to forfeit Manion's vehicle.
Bromenschenkel was a sergeant on the Sartell police force when he resigned in September amid an investigation of a complaint that city officials said was not related to the lawsuit.
Bromenschenkel hasn't discussed that complaint and has said that he was advised by his attorney not to discuss the lawsuit that goes to trial today.
The parties to the lawsuit have tried twice to mediate a settlement, said Krister Johnson, Manion's attorney. He said Manion's neck was fractured in the crash.
The focus of the trial likely will be the definition of a chase and whether Bromenschenkel was chasing Manion right before the crash happened, Johnson said.
Manion's vehicle had been driven by a suspect arrested in a drug investigation, and Sartell was trying to seize the vehicle through an administrative forfeiture procedure. Manion contends he was about to sell the vehicle and had gotten partial payment from a buyer who took the vehicle to get it checked out before completing the sale, Johnson said.
The vehicle was involved in the drug investigation before the buyer returned to complete the sale of the vehicle with Manion, Johnson said.
Then, Bromenschenkel went to Manion's residence to serve notice of the forfeiture action. Bromenschenkel was on duty but not in uniform when Manion spotted someone who wanted to speak to him.
Manion was worried that it might have been people related to the drug arrest in Sartell and drove away because he was scared, Johnson said.
Johnson contends Bromenschenkel chased Manion and forced him through a red light into an intersection where Manion's vehicle was hit by another vehicle. Bromenschenkel contends that what he was doing didn't constitute a chase, according to Johnson.
Johnson expects the trial to last the balance of the week.
Bromenschenkel started his first term as county commissioner in January. He represents the townships of Le Sauk, St. Joseph and St. Wendel; Precinct 2 of Collegeville Township; and St. Joseph, Sartell and Waite Park.
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