BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The 42-year-old son of US Senator Kevin Cramer was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and fleeing an officer after a police chase ended in a crash that killed a North Dakota sheriff’s deputy who had just placed a tire deflation device on the road and was taking shelter behind of his patrol car, according to court documents.
Ian Cramer, of Bismarck, was traveling more than 100 mph and already had two flat tires when he collided head-on with the officer. Pablo MartinWednesday, pushing him “directly into Martin’s person and throwing him approximately 100 feet,” according to charging documents. Martín, 53, was murdered.
Ian Cramer is scheduled to appear in court for the first time Friday on multiple felonies, including involuntary manslaughter, fleeing a police officer and reckless endangerment. Court records did not list an attorney for him, and Sen. Kevin Cramer declined an interview after charges were filed out of respect for Martin’s family.
Earlier Thursday, Cramer released a statement saying, “We ask the public to pray for the lost officer’s family and the colleagues who serve us every day and are grateful for all they do for us.”
According to Bismarck police, Ian Cramer was taken by his mother to the Sanford Health emergency room in Bismarck around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday over concerns about his mental health. When he got out of the truck, Cramer grabbed the wheel and went through a door to exit a locked ambulance room in the hospital’s emergency department.
One of Senator Kevin Cramer’s daughters tracked the van via cell phone and alerted authorities.
More than an hour later, a Mercer County deputy spotted Cramer and the Chevrolet Tahoe in Hazen, a community about 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Bismarck. The North Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release that a chase then began.
Initial efforts to arrest Cramer were unsuccessful. Charging documents say an officer from nearby Beulah had used a tire deflation device, which flattened two of Cramer’s tires, but he continued driving on North Dakota Highway 200. About 5 miles from Hazen, Beulah Police Chief Frank Senn and Martin deployed more deflators. devices and took refuge behind their cars. Cramer swerved and then crashed into Martin’s vehicle.
Cramer allegedly began fleeing after the crash. Senn subdued him to the ground and was injured when Cramer resisted, according to court documents.
Martin was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Cramer was evaluated at a hospital and then jailed.
Ian Cramer’s father, a first-term Republican senator, wrote that his son “suffers from severe mental disorders manifesting in severe paranoia and hallucinations.”
On Wednesday, Ian Cramer had insisted on “going with his brother Ike,” who died in 2018, according to the senator’s statement, which does not explain in more detail what that means. Alarmed, Kris Cramer took her son to the emergency room.
In 2013, Ian Cramer was charged with misdemeanor simple assault for allegedly injuring his brother’s head; he pleaded guilty. His record also includes a citation in 2010 for driving under the influence in Arizona, and several traffic citations this year and last, including one as recent as the day before the accident, for driving with a suspended license.
Martin was an 18-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, who said he was married with three children.
In a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, Mercer County Sheriff Terry Ternes said Martin “is our beloved brother in law enforcement, husband, father and grandfather. Our wound is raw and our hearts are broken.”
Whitney Zeadow, 36, who lives near Hazen, said Martin was once her neighbor; She sometimes took care of the retired police dogs he had when he was away from home.
“He was just a fantastic man,” Zeadow said, fighting back tears. “He was the kind of person who would be your advocate. He was just there to support the community, help the kids. Any little thing. He was just a pleasure to be around.”
Kevin Cramer was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving three terms in the House. He has been a strong advocate for law enforcement. He has also co-sponsored legislation to address the shortage of mental health providers in schools and expand mental health care services for military and veteran families. Critics, however, say he has supported cuts that would put those with mental illness at risk of losing coverage.
In his statement Wednesday, Cramer said his family grieves with “the family of the hero who tried to help Ian.”
The Cramer family has suffered tragedies before.
Isaac “Ike” Cramer in 2007 began dating a woman who was the mother of a baby, Abel. Three years later, the woman was murdered by her ex-husband. Kevin and Kris Cramer adopted the boy, who is now a teenager. Cramer also has two daughters and six grandchildren, according to his Senate website.
In 2018, shortly after Kevin Cramer announced his candidacy for the Senate, Ike Cramer died of liver and kidney failure after a long battle with alcohol addiction. He was 35 years old.
After Martin’s death, some who posted on the sheriff’s department’s Facebook page said the deputy had taken them to jail. They described him as a friendly person and said he was always respectful.
Cody Schank said he ended up in jail himself, but he still praised Martin.
In a private message sent to The Associated Press, Schank wrote: “Paul will be deeply missed and missed by many, it is a terrible situation, and it is very sad that it happened to such a good-hearted soul as his.”
Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.