Monthly Archives: July 2012
This one doesn’t need much comment…except to say that what makes it unusual for a DUI case is the cops getting caught:
2 LAPD Officers Lied About Making Making DUI Arrest, Prosecutor Says
Los Angeles, CA. July 26 — Prosecutors charged two Los Angeles police officers Wednesday with perjury and filing a false report for allegedly lying about an arrest.
Craig Allen, 39, and Phillip Walters, 56, turned themselves in to authorities at the downtown criminal courthouse after arrest warrants were issued, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Renee Chang, of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office’s Justice System Integrity Division, in a statement.
Allen and Walters, both motorcycle officers, were on patrol on Sept. 4, 2010, when they were dispatched to assist another officer who had stopped a suspected drunk driver, according the statement. They allegedly arrived at the scene 15 minutes later, but Allen stated in a written report that he had made the stop himself after watching the driver disregard two stop signs, the statement said.
Walters, who joined the LAPD in 1990, then allegedly testified months later at a hearing that he had been with Allen at the time of the traffic stop and had also observed the driver fail to stop.
It was not immediately clear how the officers were discovered or why it took nearly two years for charges to be filed…
I think it’s clear why….
Another in a long and continuing line of cases where drunk driving cops are given a pass — this one involving one with twice the legal limit who almost killed a young woman….
Woman Nearly Killed in Crash with Off-Duty Boston Police Officer
Boston, MA. June 26 – WBZ-TV I-Team investigation raises serious questions about Boston Police and how they handled a car crash involving one of their own officers. It was a horrific crash which nearly killed a young woman on Thursday, May 24th.
Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says so far the Boston Police officer has not been charged with anything.
The attorney for the crash victim tells the I-Team that the off-duty officer had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and has learned the officer was going about 70 mph, or about three times the speed limit when he caused the crash in Hyde Park.
It has been more than four weeks since 22-year-old Brianna O’Neill came within inches of dying in the crash.
“I have a fracture at the top of my neck, a C-1 break in my spine,” says O’Neill.
Her Honda Accord was crushed by a Toyota truck at a Hyde Park intersection. The driver of the Toyota was 35-year-old Boston Police officer Richard Jeanetti.
Witness Kelvin Santiago said it was clear that the officer had been drinking. Santiago, who lives a few feet from the intersection, helped Officer Jeanetti out of his mangled truck. “He smelled like liquor. You could smell it right out of the car. And once he talked, saying, ‘oh I did not see her.’”
But despite all that, Officer Jeanetti was not given a breathalyzer and he was not arrested. That troubles Brianna O’Neill’s attorney, Rickie Weiner.
“All these police officers are standing around this guy while my client is lying in the street,” Weiner said. “These are officers who are trained to make observations with regards to intoxication and impairment and the police report which is done in 24 hours does not mention anything about it.”…
Documents obtained by the I-Team raise even more questions about the way Boston Police investigated one of their own. The official police report quotes a key witness, whose car was also hit, as saying Officer Jeanetti, “may not have completely stopped at the all way stop sign at the intersection… but that she was not completely sure.”
Michelle Bethel is that witness. She told the I-Team she never made that statement to police.
“That is false,” she said. “That is entirely false.”
How fast was he going?
“About 70 mph, says Michelle. “He was flying.”
“I told the police that he blew right through the stop sign, like he did not even try to stop,” said Michelle. “He seemed drunk to me. I told them and they did not include that in there either.”
Shortsleeve asked Kelvin Santiago what he thought about the fact that police did not do a breathalyzer.
“It is kind of messed up,” he said. “Any regular citizen would have a gotten one and been arrested.”
Officer Jeanetti has been on “restricted duty” since the crash. His gun has been taken away and his driver’s license revoked.
About the investigation, the Boston Police told the I-Team:
“Officer Jeanetti, is currently on Administrative Restricted Duty and has been since the accident. We can confirm that on the night of the accident, a Boston Police Superintendent was called to scene by supervisors and that all injured persons, including the off-duty officer, were already on their way to area hospitals. An Immediate Threat Report has been filed with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the officer’s license to operate has been revoked. The Boston Police Department is and has been cooperating fully with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and has recommended that the matter be taken before a Grand Jury. An internal investigation will take place for a review of administrative rules violations following the criminal process.”
For other examples of the "Blue Code", see a few of my previous posts: The Blue Cover-Up, Guarding the Guardians, The DUI Double Standard, The DUI Double Standard: Another Drunk Driving Cop Gets A "Blue Pass" and Crossing the Thin Blue Line.
I’ve written in the past about how most so-called "breathalyzers" do not measure alcohol: they actually measure the presence of the methyl group in chemical compounds. One of those compounds is ethyl alcohol (aka ethanol), and the machine simply assumes that the detected compound is ethyl alcohol.
Problem: there are thousands of compounds containing the methyl group — of which over one hundred have been found on the human breath. Breathing gasoline or paint fumes, for example, or merely absorbing the fumes through the skin, can create false breath test results for days afterwards. And I’ve posted that the problem is particularly acute when the suspect happens to be a diabetic, as diabetics often have high levels of acetone in their breath — a compound which contains the methyl group.
However, you don’t have to be a diabetic to have high levels of acetone: scientific research has established that acetone can exist in perfectly normal individuals at levels sufficient to cause false high breath-alcohol test readings. See "Excretion of Low-Molecular Weight Volatile Substances in Human Breath: Focus on Endogenous Ethanol", 9 Journal of Analytical Toxicology 246 (1985).
Fasting or radical dieting, such as with the Atkins diet, can also cause significantly elevated acetone. Studies have concluded that fasting can increase acetone in the body sufficient to obtain breathalyzer readings of .06% (this is cumulative — that is, the .06% will be added by the machine to any levels actually caused by alcohol or other compounds). See "The Likelihood of Acetone Interference in Breath Alcohol Measurement", 3 Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 1 (1987). And low-carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins, have long been associated with high levels of acetone production.
Of course, for many years law enforcement denied that any such problem existed, just as they denied that mouth alcohol and radio frequency interference caused false test results — until manufacturers started adding acetone detectors, mouth alcohol detectors and RFI detectors to their machines (none of which, unfortunately, have proven effective.)
How reliable are breathalyzers? "Close enough for government work". As I’ve posted, there seems to be a growing trend toward using blood rather breath analysis, including in some states letting officers draw the blood themselves (in at least two states, at the scene of arrest). Given the reassurances about these machines so often expressed publicly by law enforcement, one has to wonder why they are increasingly turning to the involved process of hypodermic needles, preservatives, anticoagulents, refrigeration and delayed laboratory analysis….
In today’s news, another cop caught drunk driving and hiding behind the Blue Wall….
Judge Lets Off Statie Chased by Officers
Boston, MA. July 17 — The state police captain who yesterday admitted prosecutors had enough to prove he was guilty of leading Saugus cops on a late-night chase could be back patrolling Bay State highways in days after a judge gave him a break, state police and prosecutors say.
A Lynn District Court judge continued motor vehicle charges against Capt. Thomas McCarthy without a finding, meaning if the 47-year-old superior officer keeps his nose clean for six months, the charges will be wiped from his record…
Prosecutors had sought drunken driving charges against McCarthy, of Stoneham, after police said he smelled of booze and had an open beer in his cruiser when police stopped him on Route 1 in Saugus on Nov. 19, but a clerk magistrate said there was “insufficient evidence,” because cops never performed a field sobriety test.
Further information was provided in another newspaper article today:
….Saugus Police Officer James Scott’s report said McCarthy led Scott and other officers on a pursuit down Route 1 and in Saugus on Nov. 19, 2011. Scott noticed the smell of alcohol on McCarthy’s breath, according to Scott’s report, and officers found an empty beer bottle and two unopened bottles in what State Police last November described as McCarthy’s unmarked cruiser…
Scott wrote in his report that he spotted a black sedan “cross over the center yellow line on numerous occasions” on Central Street just before 11 p.m. last Nov. 19.
The car’s driver did not initially pull over when Scott activated his cruiser lights, but subsequently pulled over on Main Street, according to the report.
Scott recognized McCarthy and “could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,” according to the report.
Scott asked McCarthy to get out of the car at which point McCarthy told him, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m outta here,” according to the report.
Scott and two other Saugus police cruisers pursued McCarthy onto Route 1 and into Square One Mall near Sears, where McCarthy stopped. McCarthy, according to reports, did not initially follow Scott’s orders to throw his keys out of the car.
After he got out of the car, McCarthy refused, according to Scott, to put one arm behind his back. Scott grabbed McCarthy’s right arm and pulled him to the ground, according to the report…
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the double standard known as the "Blue Code", see a few of my past posts: The Blue Cover-Up, Guarding the Guardians, The DUI Double Standard and Crossing the Thin Blue Line.
As I’ve indicated with numerous examples in earlier posts, these breath machines which determine guilt or innocence in drunk driving cases are not exactly the reliable devices that law enforcement would have us believe. Yet another example of that unreliability is the fact that the results will vary depending upon the breathing pattern of the person being tested. This has been confirmed in a number of scientific studies.
In one, for example, a group of men drank moderate doses of alcohol and their blood-alcohol levels were then measured by gas chromatographic analysis of their breath. The breathing techniques were then varied.
The results indicated that holding your breath for 30 seconds before exhaling increased the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) by 15.7%. Hyperventilating for 20 seconds immediately before the analyses of breath, on the other hand, decreased the blood-alcohol level by 10.6%. Keeping the mouth closed for five minutes and using shallow nasal breathing resulted in increasing the BAC by 7.3%, and testing after a slow, 20-second exhalation increased levels by 2%. “How Breathing Techniques Can Influence the Results of Breath-Alcohol Analyses”, 22(4) Medical Science and the Law 275.
For another study with similar findings, see “Accurate Measurement of Blood Alcohol Concentration with Isothermal Breathing”, 51(1) Journal of Studies on Alcohol 6.
Dr. Michael Hlastala, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Medicine at the University of Washington, has gone farther and concluded:
By far, the most overlooked error in breath testing for alcohol is the pattern of breathing….The concentration of alcohol changes considerably during the breath…The first part of the breath, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent BAC. Whereas, the last part of the breath has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent BAC. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level….Thus, a breath tester reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath may indicate that the blood level is only 0.09%.” 9(6) The Champion 16 (1985).
Many police officers know this. They also know that if the breath alcohol test contradicts their judgement that the person they arrested is intoxicated, they won’t look good. So when they tell the arrestee to blow into the machine’s mouthpiece, they’ll yell at him, “Breathe harder! Harder! Keep breathing until I tell you to stop!” As Professor Hlastala has found, this method of breathing ensures that the breath captured by the machine will be from the bottom of the lungs, near the alveolar sacs, which will be richest in alcohol — giving a higher (but inaccurate) reading.