Police: Minnesota man broke window, damaged squad car camera

Also accused of driving drunk in stolen squad car

By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

A Minnesota man is accused of getting behind the wheel of squad car while drunk.

Iowa City police were called to the 500 block of North Dubuque Street shortly before midnight Saturday for a report of a man that had broken a window. While police were investigating the criminal mischief call, the responding officer left his squad car running. When officers returned to the vehicle, 20-year-old Tyler a. Griffin, of Lakeville, Minn. was behind the wheel of the squad car.

“The officer left the vehicle unlocked,” said Sgt. Scott Gaarde. “This fellow took advantage of the opportunity.”

While he was in the vehicle, Griffin tore out a camera screen, damaging the wiring, according to criminal complaints. Griffin also bled inside the squad car, which will require special cleaning, police said. Griffin smelled of alcohol and breath tests later showed he had a blood alcohol content of .152 percent.

“He openly admitted to being drunk,” the complaint stated.

That’s not all he admitted to. Asked about the broken window, Griffin allegedly told police he was kicking windows to distract police from his friends at a University of Iowa who were drinking and smoking marijuana. Griffin is not listed in the UI directory and Gaarde said there was no evidence of any party at the fraternity.

“We were called there for a guy smashing a window out, not a party call,” Gaarde said. “There’s nothing (in police reports) about a party.”

Tyler faces charges of second-degree criminal mischief, a Class D felony; drunken driving, a serious misdemeanor; operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent, an aggravated misdemeanor; fourth-degree criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor; and fifth-degree criminal mischief, a simple misdemeanor.

Gaarde said police are reviewing the incident to prevent it from happening again.

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