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Poor Exercise of DWI Discretion:

Yesterday, I posted about a woman arrested for DWI when she hadn't had a drop to drink. Now here's a case where an ex-cop was three or four sheets to the wind and caused a multi-car accident, and yet was not subjected to any alcohol test, and almost escaped drunk driving charges altogether.

wuzzagrunt (mail):
But instead of exploring the possibility that Woodall was intoxicated, officers at the scene concluded that the speeding accident could have been caused because Woodall was eating egg rolls from Jack in the Box while she was driving. They decided not even to cite her for speeding - an unusual conclusion in so dramatic an accident.

This is an outrage! Why wasn't I told they still have Jack In The Box in California? I'm going.
7.8.2008 11:52pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Actually, Jack in the Box's new 100 percent sirloin burgers (whatever they are called) are quite good. Similar to the $6 Angus beef hamburgers at Carl' Jr and much better than most of the fast food burgers out there.
7.9.2008 12:07am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The discretion can be abused. In Summit County, CO, a couple of decades ago, the elected sheriff was sitting in a bar drinking when a call came over the radio. He jumped in his car and sped toward the destination. Unfortunately, he was too drunk to be driving, and blew off the road. The Dillon (CO) police found him in his wrecked car. He told them not to ask him for a DUI test, and they complied. He did voluntarily take a BAC test some 18 hours later, which, of course, he passed with flying colors. The good news is that, despite being one of the only Blacks in the county, he lost the next election (this was part of it, and there were also allegations that either he and/or his deputies were involved in a burglary ring).
7.9.2008 12:12am
30yearProf:
5% are bad actors, 30% are willing to actively cover it up, the rest don't care enough to stop it. No wonder cops can't get no respect.
7.9.2008 12:47am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Driving while under the influence of egg rolls. I'm going to tell my state Senator to ban this dangerous condition.
7.9.2008 1:02am
Jmaie (mail):
In 'n Out.
7.9.2008 1:08am
loki13 (mail):
Golly gee, I can't wait for Whit to spin this. Maybe this story will be as creative as his superduper secret task force lab that found all the LSD on the marijuana. Or the breathalyzers that are calibrated to always report under the BAC. Or some other anecdote that defies logic, science, and common sense but must be right... because, well, you know.
7.9.2008 1:32am
TDPerkins (mail):

Golly gee, I can't wait for Whit to spin this.


[whit]It's an isolated incident. You always have a few bad apples. LEOs are under a tremendous stress. They are the the thin blue line between good people and the contamination of their bodily fluids. We don't have all the facts. Hey, maybe this is what really happened...(insert a story as unlikely as need be to explain away characteristic LEO misbehavior).[end whit]

It's easy to be whit.

It's easy to be Patterico.

Just take Occam's Razor, and turn your own brain into hamburger with it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
7.9.2008 2:10am
TDPerkins (mail):
Forgot RobR, who still can't see why "boilerplate" testimony is a variety of perjury.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
7.9.2008 2:34am
Fub:
30yearProf wrote at 7.8.2008 11:47pm:
5% are bad actors, 30% are willing to actively cover it up, the rest don't care enough to stop it. No wonder cops can't get no respect.
I don't know any good statistical estimates, but I think your general description states the problem well.

Those who do care enough to do something about it too often wind up at the mercy of the bad actors and their coverup comrades when they need assistance. So good cops learn quickly not to interfere with their bad brethren's misdeeds.
7.9.2008 2:40am
Contentious:
The way to stop it, if you're a good cop, is to document your findings fully, leave the police force, move elsewhere, and then write and publish a tell-all book. But that's not something most anyone is willing to do.
7.9.2008 3:14am
Fub:
This isn't the first outrageous case in San Jose this year. In March, an on duty deputy, not responding to an emergency, just driving around, drove across a double yellow line, killed two bicyclists and seriously injured a third. One was being scouted for the Olympics.

The charge was misdemeanor manslaughter:
Assistant District Attorney David Tomkins said the evidence did not support more serious felony charges, but Council could face two years in county jail if convicted.
He's still on paid leave.

He was doing 30 MPH on a winding road well known to be used by large numbers of bicyclists on weekends.

Any ordinary civilian who did that would go up for murder II and get the book thrown at them at sentencing. No matter what ADA Tomkins and Sheriff Morrisey say. If the dead bicyclists were cops or DAs, they'd be screaming for murder I.
7.9.2008 3:32am
Splunge:
I'm not defending the bad cops, but some of the folks criticizing the guys in blue for not self policing need to ask themselves whether they do good self policing in their own profession. Do judges not look out for each other, excuse each other, assume the best unless given iron proof otherwise? How about college professors? Do lawyers rat each other out to the bar if someone barely crosses the ethical line, or fudges a teensy harmless bit in Court? Is it easy to find a lawyer to file and fight a legal malpractise case? If you're honest, you know it doesn't work that way. It's exceedingly tough to call someone out who's in your field, with whom you work, who thinks the way you do in a strange and lonely world, or even who you've counted on to have your six in tough times.

No, the responsibility here I think rests squarely with the citizenry. If the sheriff or DA isn't elected, the City Council or County Board sure as hell is, and people need to have long memories about this kind of thing. The San Jose city government should be shitting bricks right now, worried sick they're all going to lose their jobs next election, thinking no glitzy gay marriage show or bicycle to work day is going to distract angry voters this time.

It would also help if the media took a break from trying to Save The Planet from Bushitler and Global Warming and/or a Lack Of Diversity and poked vigorously into this kind of bread-and-butter quotidian old as dirt corruption. Sounds like the Mercury News did so at least, so kudos to them.
7.9.2008 3:53am
Paul B:
Anyone who knows cops that virtually all will ignore DWIs by police officers. They may call the officer's commanding officer to let him/her know about it, but they will not do breathalyzer tests or write tickets for their fellow officers.

In the San Jose case, the drunk driver was a former San Jose cop who was working as an investigator for the district attorney. Her husband is an SJPD officer. The district attorney is married to a SJPD lieutenant.
7.9.2008 4:33am
Matt Caplan (mail):
Here's another almost-got-away-with-it case due to the status of the driver, from Louisiana.
After apparently consuming at least two alcoholic beverages, Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price rammed his city-owned luxury sport utility vehicle into a toll booth barrier just before midnight on April 22, then proceeded to drive more than three miles south on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway before police officers stopped him.

Price admitted to the Causeway Police that he had had "a couple of drinks," according to a police report. By the time he reached the first crossover, where two officers were waiting for him, he was driving with his headlights off, the report said.

But the officers did not conduct a sobriety test or issue a citation, even though they were concerned enough about Price's condition that they would not let him drive, asking him to call a relative for a ride home.

Causeway Police Chief Felix Loicano began an internal investigation of the incident just last weekend, and Price was ticketed Tuesday, two weeks after the incident, for careless operation of a motor vehicle. He also will be required to pay for replacing the toll booth gate he destroyed.

Loicano, who has viewed a videotape of the officers' encounter with Price, said Price's position as mayor had nothing to do with the decision by Sgt. Chris Dupont and Officer Chad Dorsett to let him off without a citation....
Nobody actually believed that the fact that the man was they mayor had nothing to do with the fact that the guy wasn't even given a ticket until two weeks after the fact, and there was some accountability: Loicano (the chief) and one of the officers involved resigned, and the other two officers involved were fired. The mayor, on the other hand, simply promised not to drink and drive.
7.9.2008 5:38am
TDPerkins (mail):

I'm not defending the bad cops, but some of the folks criticizing the guys in blue for not self policing need to ask themselves whether they do good self policing in their own profession.


If I did my job the way I observe and have on occasion experienced police officers doing their job, I would be fired, I would be in prison, and there would be burned, exploded factories in several locations with my name on them. You'd better believe my profession self polices. If someone makes an error, and it is discovered, it gets fixed before it ever gets to the customer. Dishonesty tends not to happen, if only because there just isn't any percentage in it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
7.9.2008 6:04am
TDPerkins (mail):
And I should add, when a mistake isn't known, and gets out to the field, it is acknowledged, fixed, and where applicable reparations made.

Those last three are discouraged in LEOs by the presumption they are not lying, by sovereign immunity, and by the fact that by the time things are out, they have become a political question instead of a question of right and wrong.

Choosing to work in a scummy system makes you scummy. All LEOs are to a degree tainted, just like lawyers and politicians are, and some LEOs are working hard to make more scum. I don't see the other LEOs much working to shut them down. Sometimes by accident it happens. Sometimes like the fake drug raid in Atlanta that killed the old lady, they uncover themselves.

I am certain that kind on evil is done by persons in most PDs all over the country, and that it is discovered mostly by accident.

There is no new professionalism.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
7.9.2008 6:21am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

The discretion can be abused.


Discretion IS abuse. Why excuse corruption just because you happen to like the perps?
7.9.2008 7:23am
The Florida Masochist (mail) (www):
This case is nothing. In South Florida nine years ago an FBI agent driving under the influence killed two brothers in a wrong way accident. The Florida Highway patrol blamed the brothers, let other FBI agents remove things from the drunk driver's vehicle and more. If you want to read more about it, enter FBI agent David Farrall in a google search, and go to the SP times article. It should be the 2nd post from the top.


Found not guilty on the most severe charges brought against him(Mostly because the investigation was so botched a defense attorney could raise reasonable doubt), Farrall only served 90 days for killing the the Thompson brothers. The FL Highway patrol people who gave Farrall profession courtesy? none got more than a five day suspension.

The FL Highway patrol not learning from the Farrall debacle, recently gave similar courtesy to a Miami Beach police officer who caused a crash down here. As I said, To serve and protect....our own.
7.9.2008 7:52am
JB:
Splunge,
I work in an office. I occasionally abuse privileges and wink at coworkers doing the same, sure. But you know what? No one's life is ruined, no one dies. Some office supplies go missing and some people get paid for 10 minutes of surfing the net.

Wrong? Yes. In the same league as this stuff? Nope.
7.9.2008 9:18am
xx:
"I'm not defending the bad cops, but some of the folks criticizing the guys in blue for not self policing need to ask themselves whether they do good self policing in their own profession."

I don't think its hypocritical to expect the police to do more policing than non-police do.
7.9.2008 10:41am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Exactly. That's the ethical burden you take up when you are granted a monopoly of force and a presumption in every court in the land that your word is truth.

You don't like it? Then renounce the above privileges.
7.9.2008 10:54am
Fub:
Splunge wrote at 7.9.2008 2:53am:
I'm not defending the bad cops, but some of the folks criticizing the guys in blue for not self policing need to ask themselves whether they do good self policing in their own profession. Do judges not look out for each other, excuse each other, assume the best unless given iron proof otherwise? How about college professors?
Yes, some professors do expose academic frauds. Matter of fact, one such professor is pretty well known around these parts.
7.9.2008 11:13am
trad and anon:
Exactly. That's the ethical burden you take up when you are granted a monopoly of force and a presumption in every court in the land that your word is truth.
I sure wouldn't want to be the defendant when it's my word against some cop's.
7.9.2008 11:46am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The San Jose bike case does not seem to belong with the other examples here. The misdemeanor charge seems to be right for a simple negligence case.

What was the speed limit on the road? 30 mph does not seem especially fast even on a winding road. The fact that bikers use the road means what, exactly?

The deputy was not drunk or high. He may have fell asleep for a second but the DA is right, dozing why driving is just negligence.

According to the first article:


In 1996, cyclist Jeffrey Steinwedel, 46, died on Stevens Canyon Road just up the road from Sunday's crash when a quarry driver struck him as he took a winter ride. The driver, Jon Nisby, was sentenced to a year in jail.


The deputy could face up to 2 years. Seems similar.
7.9.2008 11:53am
hattio1:
The world is definitely coming to an end. I'm going to defend Whit, specifically against the charges that his is SO unreasonably biased. Don't get me wrong. I think Whit excuses things that I think are clearly police corruption/incompetence/brutality. But, I have no doubt he will not defend this. He has been pretty clear about calling out police officers who commit wrongdoing. He doesn't seem to have the same ideas about punishment of those officers that I do, but I don't think he will excuse this.
7.9.2008 12:32pm
vivictius (mail):
Sorry to go off topic, but I keep meanting to ask TDPerkins, what the heck is ml, msl, &pfpp? A google search doesnt turn up anything.
7.9.2008 1:26pm
Fub:
Bob from Ohio wrote at 7.9.2008 10:53am:
The deputy was not drunk or high. He may have fell asleep for a second but the DA is right, dozing why driving is just negligence.
If he really fell asleep, if he really was sober, and if he really was driving at at safe speed for the conditions on a narrow (22 foot width) road where cyclists were known to ride.
Deputy James Council, whose car crossed over a double yellow line on Stevens Canyon Road Sunday, was sentenced to 24 months of court probation in October of 2001 for a engaging in a speed contest the month before, according to DMV records. The 27-year-old had finished his punishment before being hired by the sheriff's department in 2006.

The crash killed 30-year-old Matt Peterson and 31-year-old Kristianna Gough, and injured 20-year-old Christopher Knapp. Witnesses told the San Francisco Chronicle they heard Council say he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Investigators with the California Highway Patrol said there is no evidence the deputy had lost consciousness while he was driving.
First: Anybody who could fall asleep driving Stevens Canyon Road would have to be either narcoleptic, or too sleepy to get behind the wheel. The road is very narrow, extremely winding, and well known to be full of cyclists on weekends. He was four hours into his shift.

Second: The only evidence that he fell asleep is his own statement at the scene.

Third: The 2001 speed exhibition conviction was a plea bargain in Los Angeles, where two charges of DWI, including having a BAC over .08%, were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Fourth: The CHP did not draw a blood alcohol test in the Stevens Canyon Road accident. The sheriffs department took the sample.

Fifth: One witness reported:

As Brasse was working to save Kristy's life — one look told him that Peterson was already gone — Council continued to pace in a daze, telling gathering bystanders "I must have fallen asleep," until another deputy steered him away from the gathering bystanders and advised him to stop talking.
LEOs don't usually tell civilians to stop talking if they are incriminating themselves.

Those facts don't prove that the sheriffs department and DA circled the wagons to protect one of their own, but they certainly do raise the question.
7.9.2008 1:40pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Fub, you obviously are very interested in this case so maybe you are right.

But even the column you linked said there was no evidence of drinking. It was 10:30 in the morning, not a peak DWI time though peple do drink early sometimes. The fact that he was alleged to have driven drunk before he was a deputy means what?

Do you know what the speed limit is on that road? None of your linked articles say anything about that.
7.9.2008 1:57pm
K. Dackson (mail):

I'm not defending the bad cops, but some of the folks criticizing the guys in blue for not self policing need to ask themselves whether they do good self policing in their own profession.


It seems that with increasing levels of the need for public trust of a profession, the self policing should also be increasing.

For example, self policing of garbage men should be somewhat lower on the self-policing scale than engineers, doctors, lawyers, or cops.

But as that is just common sense, someone will argue that it makes no difference and all should be treated the same.
7.9.2008 1:57pm
Dave N (mail):
I think the issue is actually "self-policing." When there is a major incident involving a law enforcement officer, another agency should handle the investigation and any prosecution referral. There is usually at least one other law enforcement agency well-equipped to do this.
7.9.2008 2:32pm
Fub:
Bob from Ohio wrote at 7.9.2008 12:57pm:
The fact that he was alleged to have driven drunk before he was a deputy means what?
The sheriff hired a deputy to drive patrol cars who had a conviction for speed exhibition, pleaded out to get two DUIs dropped. What does that mean? Would he hire convicted loiterer who copped the plea to avoid a felony for being lookout in a bank robbery?
Do you know what the speed limit is on that road? None of your linked articles say anything about that.
I don't know the speed limit, but there is a statute that requires safe speed for road conditions, and road conditions include traffic.

According to news reports, the speed the sheriffs department relied on was determined from GPS records. Unless those records have data points on the order of a second apart or less, they are not going to give a reliable estimate of the speed in the last seconds before impact. A patrol car can accelerate many tens of miles per hour in very few seconds.

As I said, this case just raises questions about the government agencies involved. The most recent case posted by Prof. Adler above may provide some answers.
7.9.2008 2:55pm
SeaDrive:
On lakes too:


The preliminary hearing on vehicular manslaughter charges against Bismarck Dinius, 39, of Carmichael, was held yesterday and will continue today in Lakeport in Lake County. The charges were filed as a result of the death of Lynn Thornton, 51, who was killed on the O'Day 28 Beats Workin' II on the windless night of April 29, 2006, on Clear Lake. Dinius happened to be sitting at the helmsman's position of the sailboat at the time Thornton suffered the injuries that would kill her.

We think that Dinius to defend himself on these charges is a travesty of justice, as what really caused Thornton's death is Russell Perdock of Lake County slamming his appropriately named Baja Outlaw 24-ft powerboat into Beats Workin' II at 40 mph or more. Why hasn't Perdock been charged? There can only be one explanation in our mind — he's the number two man at the Lake County Sheriff's Department, and law enforcement up there, based on this case, appears to be corrupt as hell.
7.9.2008 3:10pm
rrr (mail):
"Do lawyers rat each other out to the bar if someone barely crosses the ethical line, or fudges a teensy harmless bit in Court?"

Wow. Nice bit of moral equivalency there. Yes, I see how being drunk and crashing into an on-coming car is the same thing as barely crossing an ethical line. After all, the driver merely "fudged" on that yellow line on the road thing.
7.9.2008 5:10pm
guess'd:
Chicago, mid '70s. My pal was driving back home to the NW suburbs from a classical music concert in the city. Another car was speeding around him, weaving, speeding up and slowing down, and generally showing out.

Finally it rear-ends his vehicle. He stops and gets out, and a belligerent drunk gets out of the other car, wobbles up to him, starts yelling at him, and then pulls a gun and points it at him. So my buddy slaps the gun aside and decks the guy, who is very drunk and stays down.

When the police get there, they discover that the drunk is an off-duty Chicago copper, so they arrest my pal and send the cop home.

The trial required an attorney and consumed several days, ending with an acquittal.

Just one of those things.

Side note: While my guy was on the stand, he testified that the other car was being driven in "a very erotic manner." No one in court remarked on his misstatement.
7.9.2008 5:15pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@Bruce Hayden:
"Actually, Jack in the Box's new 100 percent sirloin burgers (whatever they are called) are quite good."

They're called... (drum roll)

SIRLOIN BURGERS!

I'm eating one right now, which is kinda cool and kinda creepy at the same time.

I've always been fascinated by how Jack in the Box made their meteoric rise from the proverbial ashes after the e. coli scare several years ago. People got sick, the stock plummeted, and in the aftermath they decided to turn JitB from the Taco Bell of burger joints into a premium establishment.

My favorite episode in that drama was when Burger King introduced a 100% Angus beef burger (a high-end breed of cattle), and JitB successfully slaughtered the campaign with their 100% sirloin burger (a not-so-impressive cut of beef) by making several commercials that equated "Angus" with "anus": "Sirloin comes from this area of the cow." "Could you point to the... Angus area?" "I'd rather not."

Within a month, the Angus commercials from BK had disappeared entirely, and the drive-thru menu at our local BK had a few bright white spots where items had been hastily removed from the menu.
7.9.2008 5:46pm
Bad (mail) (www):
"Anyone who knows cops that virtually all will ignore DWIs by police officers. They may call the officer's commanding officer to let him/her know about it, but they will not do breathalyzer tests or write tickets for their fellow officers."

It doesn't have to be this way. When officers shoot someone, their weapons are confiscated, good shoot or bad. If there's no room for "professional courtesy" on that, why should there be any for being in a massive accident? Everyone should be tested with documented results as a matter of standard procedure.
7.9.2008 7:10pm
TokyoTom (mail):
While we're on the topic of abuse of discretion, all those who think that giving MORE to our intelligence, investigative, prosecutorial, administrative and execitive bureaucracies is a GOOD idea, please raise your right hand.
7.9.2008 9:47pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
But of course, giving them control of your health care is a GOOD idea, right TT?
7.10.2008 7:23am
zippypinhead:
And we're surprised by this? The law enforcement agencies I'm familiar with all have strict rules against officers ever attempting to "badge out" of a legal problem, but in general these rules are interpreted as merely meaning you don't affirmatively invoke your position to try to avoid legal responsibility for your actions -- on the other hand merely being a known LEO and getting professional courtesy from fellow LEOs is pretty much standard operating procedure. In my state I've had police officer friends candidly admit they get the "Fraternal Order of Police Active Member" vanity plate for their personal vehicle only because it gives them virtual immunity for traffic citations (or even getting pulled over for that matter), even though they otherwise would never advertise while off-duty that they're LEOs, for a lot of very good reasons.

But some of the examples in this post seem incredibly over-the-top, even for members of the Thin Blue Line. Back in the day when I was involved in the grittier parts of the legal profession, I got the impression that LEO professional courtesy ended when it was a matter likely to show up in the newspapers or where the Chief and elected officials might find out about it -- for example, cutting LEOs major breaks when they were involved in incidents that led to fatalities was generally viewed as a major taboo.
7.11.2008 11:57am
Patterico (mail) (www):
Any ordinary civilian who did that would go up for murder II and get the book thrown at them at sentencing. No matter what ADA Tomkins and Sheriff Morrisey say. If the dead bicyclists were cops or DAs, they'd be screaming for murder I.


Care to explain the legal theory by which they'd get a murder charge?

You don't know what you're talking about, do you?
7.13.2008 1:26pm