Driver accused of dragging deputy on I-41

Photo: Brown County Jail

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Greenleaf woman faces more than 17 years in prison on charges she dragged a Brown County deputy during a traffic stop earlier this week.

According to the prosecutors' criminal complaint, Stephanie Verbeten, 36, refused to comply with deputies to the point where they used a Taser and baton to get her out of her car, then she became unresponsive and needed two doses of Narcan -- a drug to counter overdoses -- to revive her.

At about 1:30 Monday morning, a deputy observed Verbeten driving erratically between 35 and 50 miles per hour and weaving in her lane on I-41 near De Pere.

He pulled her over. She was on her phone, and when the deputy told her to hang up, she said, "Wait a minute." She refused commands to roll down her window, put the car in park, or turn off the engine, and the deputy described her as "angry and belligerent." When she did roll down the window, the deputy smelled intoxicants and saw her eyes were bloodshot.

When the deputy reached into her car to unlock the door, he says Verbeten leaned on his arm and started to drive off. She dragged him about 15 feet before he freed himself, tumbling into one of the lanes of traffic.

He began pursuit, and Verbeten's speed continued to fluctuate erratically, going no more than 50 mph and as slow as 18 mph on the highway.

Other officers joined the pursuit and she stopped at the bottom of the exit ramp to County Highway U. She again refused to roll down her window or unlock her door, then refused to get out of her car. Officers fought with her to unbuckle her seat belt and get her out, jabbing her with a baton and using a Taser to stun her on her upper and lower back.

When they had her in handcuffs, she stopped struggling, then deputies describe her going limp and she stopped responding. Her breathing became labored and she went into a seizure. A sergeant gave her a dose of Narcan, and she was given a second dose 5 minutes later.

Deputies say when Verbeten regained consciousness, she continued to be combative with EMTs and hospital staff.

Deputies found a flask with a "fruity alcoholic beverage" but nothing else in the car that she might have ingested. Deputies obtained a search warrant to get a blood sample from Verbeten at the hospital.

Verbeten is charged with First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Knowingly Fleeing/Eluding an Officer or Attempting to Flee/Elude an Officer, Operating While intoxicated Causing Injury - 1st Offense, and Obstructing an Officer. The first three charges are felonies.