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No new charges filed against Superior police sergeant

Gregory M. Swanson faces one felony count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle following a crash that killed a 23-year-old man and a 2-month-old infant.

Douglas County, Wis., Courtroom
Officers block a fatal crash scene from the view of passing motorists along East Second Street on Friday, July 15, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — A Superior police sergeant accused of being involved in a fatal traffic crash made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Tuesday, July 26.

Gregory Swanson, 42, of Solon Springs, faces one felony count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold, special prosecutor for the case, told the court she planned to wait until after the preliminary hearing to add any additional charges against Swanson.

Gergory Matthew Swanson.jpeg
Gregory Matthew Swanson
Contributed / Douglas County Jail

Swanson posted $15,000 cash bail July 18, and appeared Tuesday in the courtroom beside his defense attorney, Chris Gramstrup. Jenswold attended the court hearing via video before Judge George Glonek. Swanson waived the time limits for his preliminary hearing, and it was set for Aug. 24.

The Douglas County judge does not intend to recuse himself from the case. In a July 21 letter to Gramstrup, Glonek said he believes he can preside over the matter fairly, impartially and without bias. While Swanson may have testified in Glonek’s courtroom before, the judge could not recall any particular case where he had, and the two have no personal connection.

“Judges should not recuse themselves from cases for no valid reason,” Glonek wrote.

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According to the criminal complaint, a vehicle Swanson was driving struck a disabled sedan with no lights in the right lane of the 5200 block of East Second Street at about 1:17 a.m. July 15. A 23-year-old man was reported dead at the scene of the crash, according to a news release. Another occupant of the vehicle, 2-month-old Elijah Michael Ojanen, died four days later from blunt force trauma suffered during the crash, according to a news release from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

After striking the vehicle, Swanson reportedly drove to the Holiday Gas Station roughly four blocks away. A witness at the gas station told a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy they saw Swanson get out of his vehicle with a six pack of alcoholic beverages and throw them into a garbage can, the criminal complaint said.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dana Jensen spoke to Swanson at the gas station. Jensen reported that Swanson’s eyes were glossy and bloodshot and that she detected a strong odor of intoxicants coming from him, according to the criminal complaint. Swanson told her he had two beers and one mixed drink between midnight and 1:30 a.m., and that he did not see the vehicle in the right lane until he collided with it.

Swanson showed signs of impairment on a number of field sobriety tests and was transported to Essentia Health for a blood draw. Results of the test were not included in the criminal complaint and the complaint did not say that a breathalyzer was performed.

Swanson has been placed on administrative leave from the Superior Police Department, according to Chief Nicholas Alexander.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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