Following up Monday’s "Who-will-guard-the-guardians?" story from New Jersey, this one from Chicago:
Judge Tosses Out Officer’s DUI Arrest
Chicago, IL. April 27 – For more than two years, the families of two young men killed in a Thanksgiving Day collision with an off-duty Chicago police officer have fought to prove the officer was drunk and responsible for the deaths.
But Tuesday, a Cook County judge handed them their latest setback, saying the officer was arrested and detained without probable cause, a ruling the families fear guts the prosecution’s case. Several relatives of one victim erupted in anger at the decision, shouting obscenities and scuffling with court deputies, creating a scene that revealed the raw emotions behind the long and controversial case…
Circuit Judge Thomas Gainer ruled police had no probable cause to arrest off-duty Officer John Ardelean, 36. The judge harshly criticized police Lt. John Magruder, who ordered Ardelean arrested a few hours after the crash when he said he detected alcohol on his breath and noticed bloodshot eyes. None of the four police officers at the crash scene — or a responding Chicago Fire Department emergency medical technician — reported noticing any sign that Ardelean was drunk…
Gainer described Magruder’s comments as "ramblings" and said the court did not believe his testimony. The judge also disputed the possibility of a conspiracy among police officers to protect one of their own. Two of the officers at the scene knew Ardelean.
"Everything that happened on the street that morning happened in a very short period of time," Gainer wrote. "There was no time to formulate this conspiracy to protect the defendant."
A year ago Gainer was involved in another controversial ruling when he acquitted three Chicago police officers in an off-duty beating of several businessmen in a West Loop bar. Before becoming a judge in 2001, he was a Cook County prosecutor.
The case has been a legal roller coaster. Ardelean initially was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving, but by January 2008 the charges were upgraded to felony counts of aggravated driving under the influence. Prosecutors cited a video recording from a nightclub they said showed Ardelean drinking three beers and four shots in a little more than two hours. Shortly after that, his SUV slammed into the victims’ car at Damen and Oakdale avenues while traveling more than 60 mph, authorities said…
By May 2008 prosecutors told the families they were dropping the investigation because of insufficient evidence. But three months later, following pressure from the families and some politicians, the state’s attorney’s office reopened the probe after a video aired on TV showing a woman pouring a drink down Ardelean’s throat and the officer grabbing a beer as he left Martini Ranch, a River North bar. The next month, Ardelean was charged with two counts of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated DUI.
No comment necessary….