Mantorville, MN (KROC-AM News) - A ceremony and reception honoring an area law officer who died years ago as a result of injuries suffered in the line of duty will take place Thursday afternoon in Mantorville.

Hayfield Police Chief Doug Claassen suffered a fatal heart attack in 1999 that was blamed on the severe injuries he suffered in an altercation that occurred after a pursuit in 1977. According to Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose, the chase ended when the vehicle went into a ditch and Claassen found the driver slumped over. The Chief then removed the man from the vehicle and was carrying him out of the ditch when the regained consciousness and became combative. After he kicked Claassen in the neck, he tried to grab his gun and was yelling, “kill, kill, kill!” before he passed out for a second time. Sheriff Rose says the man woke up several times and fought with the Police Chief before he was finally secured in an ambulance and transported to a hospital.

The violent altercation left Claassen with a spinal cord injury that compromised his respiratory and circulatory systems, resulting in a severe disability that required he use a wheelchair and ultimately was blamed for his premature death.

Sheriff Rose says Chief Claassen’s death is listed as only the second line of duty death for Hayfield’s Police Department, but he was never formally recognized for his sacrifice.

After learning of the situation, Sheriff Rose and Claassen’s family successfully applied to have his name added to the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association list and the Officer Down Memorial Page at the national level. They are still waiting a response from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC.

The event honoring Chief Doug Claassen will be held at the Dodge County Government Services Building from 2:30 until 4:30 PM with a program and formal presentation at 3 PM.

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