Carl Sagan: There are billions and billions of such chickens, crossing roads just like this one, all across the universe. [Apologies for perpetuating the misquote.]
An off-duty undercover Houston police officer has been relieved of his duties after being charged with driving while intoxicated charge after authorities said he caused a four-car crash north of downtown.
Houston police confirmed Wednesday that Officer Bobby Lee Jennings, 50, who joined the police department’s narcotics division in 1995, caused Tuesday’s multi-vehicle accident in the 1200 block of Houston Avenue.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that the officer had been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation into the incident. Meanwhile misdemeanor charges against him were filed in a Harris County court-at-law, and he is free after posting a $500 personal bond, court records show.
The officer was driving along Houston Avenue when he sideswiped two vehicles and crashed into the back of another, Lt. Larry Crowson said. He was driving a city of Houston vehicle during the crash, but was not on duty but instead on call as an undercover officer, Crowson said.
As officers were investigating, they noticed the officer showed signs of intoxication and asked for a special DWI investigator to look into the situation.
“Texas is No. 1 for a lot of great things,” Acevedo said. “But we’re also No. 1 for injuries and deaths as it relates to DWI. And the city of Houston and Harris County is No. 1 in Texas for injuries and deaths involving DWI.”
Acevedo discussed the “imperfect condition” of humans, but said he has zero tolerance for driving while intoxicated. He added that the department offers their officers psychological services, a peer support program, employee assistance, and a taxi ride program.
“So there is absolutely no excuse for getting intoxicated and driving while intoxicated,” he said. “I know a lot of my employees and that most of them — it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, but they made a bad choice, and they’re going to have to pay the consequences.”
On Thursday, Houston Police Officers’ Union President Joe Gamaldi said the union would not be representing Jennings in his criminal case.
“We do represent him administratively when that times comes,” Gamaldi said. “However … it just needs to be said: We encourage everyone to make responsible choices if they’ve had too much to drink and to make sure they get a safe ride home.”
A new trend to the trend?
Police in Texas charged a 30-year-old man with driving while intoxicated after he crashed a scooter outside a restaurant on Halloween, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday.
It wasn’t Travis Walker’s first DUI, either, according to the report. The paper says he has two prior convictions — presumably with vehicles other than the gas-powered Viza Viper he was scooting around on until the crash Wednesday evening.
Walker was going to try to make his getaway, bloody elbows and all, when restaurant staff called the cops, the Statesman says, citing the police affidavit. Walker was offered a taxi ride and — new mistake — refused.
“As he was leaving, Walker fell off the scooter and almost crashed into a taxicab,” the report says. “Police performed field sobriety tests on Walker, who told officers he thought it was 3:32 a.m. when it was 8:13 p.m., and was laughing.”
Alas, this is not a first in any way.
That distinction could belong to Nicholas Kauffroath, 28, who in September became the first scooter jockey to sustain a DUI conviction in Los Angeles, USA Today reported. He was allegedly three times over the legal limit when he crashed a Bird scooter into a 64-year-old pedestrian, the Associated Press reported. On Sept. 28, he pleaded no contest to hit-and-run and operating a motorized scooter while under the influence of alcohol and received a $550 fine, plus probation. He also had to pay restitution.
Wolfgang Pauli: There was already a chicken on this side of the road.
Oakland County Judge candidate fails roadside sobriety test Royal Oak Police, The Detroit News
Royal Oak — In a plea agreement with the city attorney’s office, a candidate for the Oakland County Circuit Court bench pleaded guilty Wednesday to littering and acknowledged responsibility for careless driving in exchange for having a drunken driving charge dismissed.
Julie A. McDonald, 49, of Bloomfield Hills was arrested Sept. 8 on Woodward Avenue after a police officer saw her toss something out a driver’s side window of her 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and make an unsignalled turn onto the busy roadway.
“I was driving down 11 Mile and threw a cigarette out the window and on the street,” McDonald told Royal Oak 44th District Judge Jamie Wittenberg at a pretrial hearing in which the plea agreement was entered.
McDonald made no reference to drinking; the littering offense is a misdemeanor, while careless driving is a civil infraction.
Misdemeanors are punishable by jail time and fines of $245.
Satisfied that McDonald understood the agreement, Wittenberg accepted the plea and allowed her to remain free on bond pending a Dec. 13 sentencing date. Wittenberg also ordered McDonald not to use alcohol or controlled substances except for prescribed purposes.
He said she is to report to the probation department for an alcohol screening assessment prior to the sentencing. A first-time drunken driving conviction, while a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and other conditions.
McDonald would not respond to questions from reporters. Her attorney, Lawrence Sherman, said “My client sincerely regrets her actions.
“Clearly this situation was avoidable and she is disappointed in herself for allowing this to happen,” Sherman told reporters outside the courtroom. “She has spent a lot of time reflecting on her actions and the negative consequences brought about by them. She is truly sorry.
“As a candidate for public office, she has an obligation to set a higher standard,” Sherman said. “She recognizes that responsibility and is committed to achieving it.”
City attorney David Gillam said after reviewing the facts in the incident, it was determined that the plea agreement was appropriate.
“Her actions, her driving, speed, was not excessive or outrageous,” Gillam said. “She tested at about the level of intoxication.”
Gillam bristled at a suggestion that McDonald received special consideration because she is a judicial candidate.
“Our office doesn’t prosecute people based on their jobs or what they might be in the future,” he said. “…This is not a matter of pay $245 and you’re out the door… She will be interviewed by probation officers and the judge has much discretion in sentencing, including putting her on probation for up to two years.”
Gilliam noted the matter is also being reported to the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Judicial Tenure Commission, which can also determine whether other penalties could be appropriate. Those supervising agencies have a broad range of powers, including suspension of licenses to practice law, even disbarment.
Police said McDonald, who was driving a few miles over the posted speed limit — 54 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone — before being stopped south of Catalpa about 10:45 a.m.
She fumbled with papers inside the vehicle and gave the officer an expired registration and insurance papers for the vehicle. The officer smelled an odor of alcohol inside the vehicle and described McDonald’s eyes as “watery and bloodshot,” according to a police report obtained by The News under the Michigan of Freedom of Information Act.
McDonald subsequently failed field sobriety tests and when asked if she had been drinking, told the officer she had four vodka-and-soda drinks the night before. She recorded a .10 blood-alcohol level, and later at the police station, a .08 level, at which a motorist is considered intoxicated.
During the ride to the police station, McDonald fretted to the officer on how she was running for office and the arrest would reflect badly on her. When the officer told her he had no discretion in the matter, she calmly said she understood.
Later while sitting handcuffed in the patrol car’s back seat, she managed to make a call on her cellular phone. In the conversation, according to a patrol car videotape, she told the person she called for help: “I’m screwed…”
Despite the plea agreement, there is nothing preventing McDonald, the daughter of retired Oakland Circuit Judge John McDonald, from being elected to the judgeship, which until a few weeks ago appeared to be uncontested.
The newly created judicial seat on the Oakland bench carries a six-year term and pays $145,558 a year.
Following her arrest, four other attorneys — Michael Blau of Farmington; Maryann Bruder of Huntington Woods; Edward Nahhat of Royal Oak; and Corrine Shoop of Southfield, all registered as write-in candidates with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.
Michael Barrett, 47, of Woodcrest Avenue in Stratford, was charged with risk of injury to a child, operating while under the influence and failure to maintain his lane, police said.
Barrett, who works as a school security officer at Booth Hill School in Shelton and in the Trumbull school system, had a blood alcohol level of .191, more than twice the legal limit of .08, police said.
According to police, he was driving his 12-year-old daughter to go trick-or-treating at the time of the collision at Nichols and North avenues. He struck a car driven by a woman who also was driving her children to go trick-or-treating.
Barrett smelled strongly of alcohol, police said, and admitted he had six drinks.
His status with the Shelton and Trumbull school systems could not be determined Friday.
Isaac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross roads.
Police said Scott Kaminski crashed into several vehicles during the chase.
A Glastonbury man suspected of driving under the influence and crashing into several cars, including a school bus in East Hampton, was arrested after a police chase that went through several towns and ended in East Windsor Monday afternoon, according to state police.
State police have arrested 32-year-old Scott Kaminski, of Glastonbury, who they said was driving a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had been reported stolen earlier in the day and Waterbury police were chasing the vehicle, but they ended the pursuit when the driver got away and contacted state police.
State police said this case was connected to a crash earlier in the day when a driver in a stolen pickup hit a school bus full of children in East Hampton around 7:40 a.m.
The driver of a Jeep stopped to make sure everyone was OK and the driver who hit the bus school took the Good Samaritan’s Jeep and took off, according to police.
Initial reports were that the Jeep was in the area of the Southington rest area on I-84 East.
Around 2:18 p.m., police saw the Jeep speeding on I-84 East near exit 39A in West Hartford, then get off at exit 42 and hit several vehicles in Hartford and West Hartford, according to state police.
The Jeep was then seen near exit 48 and troopers tried to stop the vehicle, but state police said Kaminski kept going.
After getting off I-91 at exit 42, Kaminski took South Main Street to Route 140, where the Jeep hit a dump truck and another vehicle before flipping over onto the side, police said.
When the chase ended at Route 140 and Shoham Road, Kaminski was unconscious and he was transported to Hartford Hospital.
Police said there were two warrants for him from Manchester police.
Once he was released from the hospital Kaminski was charged with first-degree larceny, interfering, engaging in a pursuit, reckless driving, operating under suspension, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, prescription container violation and operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.