A brief, five-word police report about a police officer’s DUI arrest has raised suspicions in a town where lengthy police reports are apparently the norm, according to a report from The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina.
Sources indicate that Mount Pleasant, South Carolina police officer, Major Frank Riccio, was recently arrested for drunk driving after failing a field sobriety test following a car accident on U.S. Highway 17 in Georgetown County, South Carolina.
The incident gained a good deal of local attention, both because it was the arrest of a police officer, and because a dashboard camera in one of the responding officer’s vehicles captured the arrest on film.
However, sources suggest that an incident report filed by police after Riccio’s arrest was oddly terse, claiming only that a “subject” was “arrested for DUI refusal.” Those five words represented the only statement by police on the arrest.
But, according to The Post and Courier, most police agencies in that part of South Carolina routinely document a suspect’s behavior during the arrest with some degree of detail.
In addition, DUI police reports in South Carolina usually give some details on how the suspect performs during a field sobriety test, what language he uses with the police, and whether there were any other external signs of drunkenness, like slurred speech or reduced motor skills.
In fact, sources say that recent reports for DUI arrests by police departments in Mount Pleasant and Charleston usually include hundreds of words and several pages of prose on each incident.
Anecdotally, one Mount Pleasant police officer even went so far as to record a suspected drunk driver’s claim that he had been celebrating an event at Wild Wing, a local restaurant, in a routine police report.
And, in other incident in Charleston, a reporting officer observed that an inebriated man kept repeating the phrase, “I’m just trying to ho home,” and the officer also noted that the suspect’s mother told police her son had been drinking straight from a bottle of vodka.
According to Bill Rogers, the executive director of the S.C. Press Association, it is “a little strange that their procedures differ that dramatically.” He also observed that there “seems like there should be more to” the report related to Riccio’s arrest.
In response to these claims, local police, through a spokesman, have admitted that their report on Riccio was “insufficient.” This admission, however, may not slow the media’s outrage over perceived favoritism shown towards the arrested police officer.
A trooper employed by the Ohio State Highway Patrol was arrested recently for driving 102 miles per hour. And, in addition to his incredible speed, the off-duty officer was also driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to a report from the Mansfield News-Journal, 39-year-old state trooper Tiffany J. Wilson was stopped by police after midnight while she was driving her personal vehicle on Interstate 71 in Morrow County.
Sources say the posted speed limit on the stretch of road where Wilson was arrested is 65 miles per hour, and according to patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston, police pulled Wilson over after receiving “several reckless operation calls … regarding a vehicle going northbound on I-71.”
After she was pulled over, Wilson agreed to take a blood alcohol test and blew a .16, which is twice the legal limit in Ohio.
Wilson received a ticket for speeding in addition to the DUI charge, which is her first drunk driving offense. To add embarrassment to an already negative situation, the officer who wrote the ticket was Wilson’s boss, Lt. Toby Smith.
The police spokesman said that Wilson, who is a resident of Mount Gilead, Ohio, has at least temporarily been relieved of her weapon, identification, card, badge, and uniform, and that Wilson has taken a personal leave.
Soon, however, the trooper’s office will place Wilson on administrative duties, which will keep her out of the field while the police conduct an internal investigation to determine whether Wilson deserves further disciplinary actions.
Of course, even if Wilson escapes disciplinary actions from the trooper’s office and maintains her job, which she has had since 2000, she still has to face the potential consequences of a DUI conviction.
Like most citizens, police officers are also subject to the possible punishments of a DUI offense, which may include a jail sentence, a hefty fine, community service requirements, or the loss of a driver’s license.
When police officers are arrested for a DUI, they usually face more scrutiny than the average citizen who is caught driving drunk, and a recent incident in Miami, Florida serves as no exception.
According to the Miami Herald, 32-year-old Fernando Villa, a veteran officer in the Miami-Dade County police force, was discovered by his colleagues while off duty passed out in his patrol car in the middle of an intersection.
While this story is shocking enough, local officials are also disappointed by the actions of the arresting officers, who did not place Villa in jail after the incident. Their actions have spawned an internal investigation into the matter.
Sources indicate that another Miami police officer discovered Villa’s patrol car idling in the middle of an intersection around 8:20 p.m. on a Tuesday evening. The officer discovered Villa drunk and passed out in the driver’s seat of the idling car.
Upon discovering his inebriated colleague, the officer on the scene contacted his superiors for orders on how to handle the situation. According to the man he called, Police Director Jim Loftus, the officer was instructed to treat Villa “like everyone else.”
Typically, of course, someone accused of drunk driving is taken to jail and booked for the offense. Rarely are drunk drivers simply given warnings by police and allowed to casually drive home. In fact, under Florida law, drivers are released with a promise to appear in court only for low-level, or misdemeanor, DUI offenses.
Contrary to usual police policy, though, the officer who initially arrested Villa did not book the drunk driver, nor did he take him to jail. Instead, Villa signed a form promising that he would appear in court and he was allowed to go home, despite the fact that his offense was probably not a low-level DUI.
This action has drawn a considerable amount of scrutiny from local press, and in response to a public outcry, the Miami-Dade police department’s bureau of internal affairs has launched an investigation into the matter.
Again, the police director Jim Loftus maintains that he instructed the arresting officer to arrest and book Villa, without giving him any special treatment. Somewhere along the line, however, an office disobeyed this order and gave Villa special treatment.
According to Loftus, the police department plans to discover the identity of the “person or persons” who refused to follow their superior’s official advice, and “hold them accountable.”
Thus, it looks like a simple act by one police officer to offer special treatment to his colleague may prove to be very costly for the officer’s career.
Of course, Villa’s career is almost certainly in deeper trouble. Sources indicate that the officer has been relieved of his duties without pay while the police department completes its investigation into the matter
A police officer in Redding, Ca., is currently on paid leave after his arrest last week for suspicion of driving a city vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Matthew R. Zalesny was stopped by Redding police early Aug. 17 and subsequently arrested by California Highway Patrol Officer Kurt Heuer.
Police Chief Peter Hansen told the Record Searchlight that Zalesny was cited and arrested, and that the officer is now on paid administrative leave as a department investigation is carried out.
Zalesny’s law enforcement duties have also been suspended, Hansen told the newspaper.
The criminal investigation of the case has been handed over to the CHP in accordance with standard department procedure. The case is currently being prepared for the Shasta County District Attorney’s review.
Zalesny, 44, was born and raised in Redding and has worked for 23 years as a law enforcement officer.
After beginning his career with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy in 1988, he moved to the Anderson Police Department three years later. While there, he worked patrol and served as an officer in the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.
Zalesny has been with the Redding Police Department since 1994, where he has worked as an identification technician, taught defensive strategies, served on the SWAT team and served as a field training officer.
In 2007, Redding police honored Zalesny and a group of other officers for their work on an anti-gang enforcement unit.
Zalesny’s DUI arrest marks the second among Redding police officers in the last five years. In 2006, Christopher Jacoby was arrested when CHP officers found his car plowed off a highway embankment.
Jacoby pleaded guilty to the charge, paid fines, and spent ten days in jail before eventually returning to work as a Redding Police Department investigator.
Redding Police declined to provide the newspaper with the conditions of Jacoby’s discipline for the DUI arrest.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this one says it all. Two on-duty Miami police officers mug and smile for the camera while surrounded by five young women celebrating a bachelorette party July 2 at the Clevelander hotel.
Later the same night, one of the officers, Derick Kuilan, took the bachelorette for a joyride on a department-owned ATV, crashing into and seriously injuring two innocent beachgoers.
The picture was released Tuesday by Miami-Dade prosecutors as they charged Kuilan with two felony counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury. The second officer, Rolando Gutierrez, does not face criminal charges.
“It is mind-boggling that they felt comfortable enough to do something like that,” Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega told the Miami Herald.
Both officers have been fired from the department since the time of the incident.
Details of what allegedly happened are outlined in a warrant prepared by prosecutor David I. Gilbert and Miami Beach detective Robert Silvagni:
Derick Kuilan was assigned to ATV patrol, midnight shift, on July 3 and Officer Rolando Gutierrez was assigned to patrol mid-Beach.
That night, the pair of officers walked into the Clevelander hotel bar, a known attraction for tourists, around 5 a.m.
A group of young women from Pennsylvania were celebrating a bachelorette party when the officers arrived. After posing for a picture with the group, Kuilan and Gutierrez began dancing and drinking.
Kuilan then invited the bachelorette, Adalee Martin, to take a ride with him on the ATV he had parked nearby, to which Martin agreed.
The two drove south along the beach at alternating speeds, turning the headlights on and off as they neared approaching pedestrians. When they arrived at the end of the beach and turned around, they drove back north with the vehicle’s lights turned off.
On the drive back, the ATV crashed into Kitzie Nicanor and Luis Almonte, who were on the beach dipping their feet in the water. Bystanders claimed that the ATV whizzed by and that “they could barely see it, because it had no lights on and it was traveling fast,” according to the warrant.
Almonte suffered a broken femur, requiring surgery, while Nicanor had to have her spleen removed and remains hospitalized in serious condition.
Kuilan surrendered to the Miami-Dade County Jail after being charged Tuesday and has already posted $30,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 25.