GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — An officer with the Green Bay Police Department in Wisconsin has officially been charged with negligence and misconduct stemming from a 2021 incident in which he was filmed hitting a suspect with his car. He has also been accused of mocking the suspect.
Green Bay Police Officer Matthew Knutson, 40, was attempting a traffic stop on Nov. 23, 2021, when the suspect got out of his car and fled on foot, dashcam video from Knutson’s cruiser showed. He then drove the vehicle over a curb and made contact with the suspect, knocking him to the ground.
A recent criminal complaint obtained by News 2’s sister station, WFRV, includes Knutson’s original police report concerning that incident, in which Knutson claimed the suspect cut directly in front of him, which is what caused contact with the vehicle.
Knutson’s report and the camera footage, however, appeared to tell two different stories.
The footage shows Knutson driving up on the grass, even though there were no other vehicles in the nearby driveway at the time.
Knutson was seen getting out of the car and tackling suspect, who was also subdued by other responding officers. Knutson could later be heard telling the suspect, “You are not injured. OK, I pushed you to the ground, you are not injured.”
He later told the suspect “You’re fine man,” and “You’re not hurt, you’re not that old.”
Knutson’s actions were brought to attention by the defense counsel for the suspect, after reviewing police reports and footage from the squad car and body-worn cameras.
The defense counsel also said that officers at the scene seemed to laugh at the suspect’s plight, after Knutson began mimicking the suspect hobbling.
Earlier this year in January, a detective met with Knutson and his attorney and asked why he drove on the grass when there were no other vehicles on the street, as Knutson originally claimed. Knutson said that a vehicle had previously passed and wasn’t sure if it was his own flashing lights or something else, but he “thought something else was there.”
When asked about the part of the incident where his squad car hit the subject, Knutson said he was concerned about the two trees in the area as well as the whereabouts of a fellow officer.
Knutson also said he assumed the suspect was going to go a certain way and was trying to get his vehicle up and around him and past him and “turn into the other side of him.”
Knutson reportedly admitted that mimicking the suspect’s walk “was stupid and inappropriate.”
Knutson has been formally charged with negligent operation of vehicle, a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in prison, and misconduct/office-fraud/records/statement, a felony punishable by up to three and a half years in prison.
Court records show that Knutson’s initial court appearance is scheduled for May 17.