US Senator Kevin Cramer’s son appears in court after crash that killed North Dakota representative

In this frame shot from the video, Ian Cramer, center left, makes his first court appearance via video link from the McLean County Jail in Washburn, ND, on Friday, December 1.  Top right is Mercer County State's Attorney Todd Schwarz, and bottom right is South Central District Judge Bobbi Weiler.  (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

(Tom Stromme/Associated Press)

US Senator Kevin Cramer’s son appears in court after crash that killed North Dakota representative

JACK DURA

Dec. 8, 2023

The 42-year-old son of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer made his first court appearance Friday on manslaughter and other charges after authorities said he fled from police and crashed into a patrol car, prompting a North Dakota sheriff’s deputy to kill him. came to life who took cover behind the police. vehicle.

The charges against Ian Cramer, of Bismarck, ND, include fleeing a police officer and reckless endangerment in connection with Wednesday’s chase and crash that killed 53-year-old Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Martin. was killed.

Cramer did not enter a plea Friday that will happen at a later hearing. He appeared in court remotely via videoconference from jail in a neighboring county. District Judge Bobbi Weiler set bail at $500,000, which prosecutors requested, and ordered a mental health evaluation.

Mercer County States Atty. Todd Schwarz cited Cramer’s criminal record in other states in asking for the bond, and said he plans to file additional drug-related charges for possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

We have an offender in multiple states, we have an extremely serious situation, it appears to be complicated by drug use. As a result, we have a dead police officer,” Schwartz said.

Cramer, who appeared without an attorney, said he had received mental health treatment from Sanford Health and worked at a pizza restaurant in Bismarck before his arrest. When asked if he understood his rights, he told the judge that he had a minor head injury, so it is very difficult to concentrate at the moment.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) declined an interview request after charges were filed Thursday, but previously released a statement asking for prayers for Martin’s family. His statement also said his son was experiencing a mental health issue Wednesday afternoon when he fled a Bismarck hospital in the family’s car.

The son of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer has been charged with manslaughter in a crash that killed a North Dakota representative

Bismarck police said Ian Cramer’s mother took him to the emergency room at Sanford Health in Bismarck on Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. due to concerns about his mental health. As she got out of the SUV, Cramer took the wheel and crashed through a door to get out of a locked ambulance bay.

One of the senator’s daughters tracked the SUV via cell phone, and about an hour later, deputies in Mercer County spotted Cramer in Hazen, about 70 miles northwest of Bismarck, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

Cramer reached speeds of 100 mph and kept going even after an officer from nearby Beulah used a spiked device to flatten two tires on the Chevrolet Tahoe, authorities said.

About 5 miles outside of Hazen, Beulah Police Chief Frank Senn and Martin deployed more tire puncture devices and took cover behind their cars. Cramer swerved and then crashed head-on into Martin’s patrol car, launching him about 100 feet, according to charging documents.

The 18-year veteran of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and married father of three was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Senator Cramer, who was elected in 2018 after serving three terms in the House of Representatives, released a statement asking for prayers for the deputy’s family and colleagues. He said his family grieved with the family of the hero Ian tried to help.

The senator was an advocate for law enforcement and co-sponsored legislation to address the shortage of mental health providers in schools and expand mental health services for military families and veterans. However, critics say he has supported cuts that put people with mental illness at risk of losing coverage.

He wrote that his son suffers from severe mental disorders manifested by severe paranoia and hallucinations.

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Ian Cramer’s mother took him to the hospital after he insisted on going to see his brother Ike, who died in 2018, according to the senator’s statement.

Isaac Ike Cramer was 35 when he died of liver and kidney failure. His death, which came shortly after his father announced his run for Senate, followed a long battle with alcohol addiction and personal tragedy.

In 2007, Ike Cramer started dating a woman who was the mother of a child named Abel. Three years later, the woman was murdered by her estranged husband. Kevin and Kris Cramer adopted the child, who is now a teenager. Senator Cramer also has two daughters and six grandchildren, according to his Senate website.

In 2013, Ian Cramer was charged with simple assault for injuring his brother’s head; he pleaded guilty. His file also includes a 2010 citation for driving under the influence in Arizona, and several traffic citations this year and last year, including one the day before the crash, for driving with a suspended license. Schwarz said Cramer has an active arrest warrant in Houston for assault and evading arrest and a 2008 conviction in Montana for negligence involving a substantial risk of death, among other charges.

Ian Cramer’s two sisters declined to comment outside the courtroom after his appearance.

Meanwhile, Martin’s death has roiled the community, where even the people he arrested praised him. In a post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Mercer County Sheriff Terry Ternes said Martin is our beloved brother in law enforcement, a husband, father and grandfather. Our wound is raw and our hearts are broken.

Martin’s funeral will be held Wednesday at Beulah High School. Gov. Doug Burgum has ordered state agencies to fly flags at half-staff through Wednesday in Martin’s honor, and he encouraged residents to do the same.

Associated Press reporter Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.

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