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Farmington man dies in high speed chase

Cody Swanson died May 27 after leading police on a high speed chase from Farmington to Red Wing.

A 24-year-old man died after leading police on a high speed chase from Farmington to Red Wing early Sunday morning.

According to a press release issued by police chief Brian Lindquist, Farmington officers attempted to stop a suspicious vehicle near 220th Street and Canton Court at approximately 4:08 a.m. The driver, identified as Cody J. Swanson, did not stop.

Instead, Swanson led officers on a high-speed chase east on County State Aid Highway 50. Police followed the suspect through Hampton and Miesville. As the suspect neared Red Wing, a Red Wing officer deployed spikes in an attempt to slow the vehicle.

Swanson continued at a high speed, lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree near Highway 61 and Cannon River Avenue in Red Wing. He was confirmed dead at the scene. The Minnesota State Patrol has recorded 4:35 a.m. as the time of the incident.

Swanson was driving a four-door Buick sedan, with no license plate and a headlight out. The car had been reported as stolen from Scott County, Lindquist said.

Since the beginning of the year, Swanson has appeared in Dakota County court on charges of burglary, fraud, theft, receiving stolen property and drugs. He was arrested early in the year in connection to a series of burglaries in the residential section of downtown Farmington.

However, officers did not know it was Swanson behind the wheel on Sunday, Lindquist said.

“They didn’t know who was driving. They just knew it was a car that wouldn’t stop,” he said. “It was dark, there were no license plates on the car. They had no way of knowing.”

Lindquist said the officers followed policy when it came to pursuing the fleeing vehicle.

“I have no problem with the procedure they used,” he said.

According to Lindquist, Farmington police officer Pete Zajac, an eight-year veteran, was pursuing Swanson when he struck the tree in Red Wing. Zajac was placed on a three-day administrative leave, per standard procedure.

“That three days is not for anything other than giving him time,” Lindquist said. “This is a traumatic event. When they are here, they have to have their mind in the game. When he comes back, the investigation continues.”

The incident involved law enforcement agencies from Farmington, Red Wing, Dakota County and Goodhue County. The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the incident. A toxicology report will be provided as part of that investigation, Lindquist said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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