UI student faces three felonies after erratic Campustown chase

UI student faces three felonies after erratic Campustown chase

URBANA — A University of Illinois student, whose strange actions led to a police pursuit and him allegedly clipping an officer with his car, has been charged with three felony offenses.

Charles C. Edge, 21, of the 500 block of East White Street, Champaign, was charged Wednesday with aggravated battery to a police officer, aggravated fleeing and eluding, and aggravated driving under the influence of drugs.

UI police spokesman Pat Wade said Edge first came to the attention of police about 12:50 a.m. Tuesday when an officer saw him using his cellphone while driving and pulled him over near First and Healey streets.

After giving him a warning, the officer cleared the call but noticed that Edge continued to sit where he had been stopped and appeared to be acting strangely.

“He was staring straight ahead and appeared to be sweating,” Wade said.

That prompted the officer to start toward Edge to check on him, but Edge took off in his car fast.

He was stopped a second time at 1:23 a.m. in a parking lot at the southwest corner of Springfield and Goodwin avenues in Urbana, Wade said.

There, Wade said, officers observed him grinding his teeth and clenching his jaw excessively, a common indicator of MDMA (Ecstasy) use. They also saw five empty water bottles in his car. Excessive thirst is also a side effect of Ecstasy use.

Because of his condition, the first officer called for help, and Officer Doug Beckman showed up.

“They’re talking to him for a couple of minutes and then he took off again, and he clips Beckman (with his side-view mirror) as he’s driving off,” Wade said.

Police had drawn their Tasers and fired in Edge’s direction as he sped off but hit only the car.

“At one time, he was estimated to be doing 80 miles per hour on Springfield Avenue,” Wade said, adding that he disobeyed at least two traffic signals.

Because of the speed, officers terminated their pursuit. They had his address and waited near his apartment.

“At 1:47 a.m., he gets home and our officers are waiting for him,” Wade said.

Edge was arrested and taken to the county jail, where he continued to act strangely — laughing, smiling widely and clenching his jaw, Wade said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Tim Sullivan said Edge allegedly yelled obscenities at jail staff and at one point had to be wrestled to the ground by correctional officers.

Edge appeared via video camera from the satellite jail to be arraigned by Judge Brett Olmstead. He was clad in the so-called “turtle suit,” a heavy gown designed to prevent an inmate from harming himself.

Olmstead appointed the public defender to represent Edge, set his bond at $7,500 and told him to be back in court July 31.

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