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Man acquitted after refusing roadside tests

A man who authorities say has five DUI convictions has been found not guilty of another drunken-driving charge after refusing to take roadside sobriety tests.

According to the McHenry County sheriff’s deputy who pulled him over for speeding, Thomas Wangler smelled of alcohol, had glassy eyes, was slurring his words and had an open can of beer in his car during the 2016 stop.

He “had absolutely no business operating a motor vehicle,” Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese told jurors.

But lacking evidence of his blood-alcohol content, Wangler was found not guilty Tuesday of aggravated driving under the influence, a felony. Prosecutors said the 54-year-old Algonquin man has at least five prior DUI convictions, with his indictment citing three in Cook County, all in 1990, and two in McHenry County, in 1993 and 2001.

Police in several McHenry County communities pointed to these kinds of cases when they announced last month that they would move to a no-refusal policy. That means that if a driver who is suspected of DUI refuses a breath test, police will automatically seek a warrant for a blood test.

Authorities said they made the move mainly to target repeat offenders who they say know how to game the system by refusing roadside testing, despite the other penalties that can come with that, including a driver’s license suspension.

Wangler, as it happened, was driving with a suspended license during his arrest and was convicted of that offense, prosecutors said. He also has four prior convictions for driving with a suspended or revoked license, also in Cook and McHenry counties, the most recent in 2002, according to the indictment in the current case. He’s due to be sentenced in June.

The officer who arrested Wangler in 2016, Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Bruketta, testified this week that he pulled Wangler over along Route 31 near Crystal Lake because his Cadillac was going 11 mph over the speed limit.

Bruketta testified that Wangler refused to take a roadside sobriety test or submit to a Breathalyzer. He admitted to not having a driver’s license and repeatedly asked the officer to just let him go because he was blocks from his home, Bruketta said.

He said Wangler smelled of alcohol and had “mush mouth” and red and glassy eyes. Wangler told Bruketta that he’d had three drinks that day and became “childish” and “belligerent” as he was driven to the police station, the officer testified.

He said Wangler yelled at him to “get a real job” and to “go get real criminals.” Wangler also accused the deputy of drinking and driving and said that he gets away with it because he “has a badge,” the deputy testified.

Wangler’s defense attorney, Pat Walsh, sought to undermine the state’s allegations that his client showed “obvious signs of impairment.”

He noted that Wangler slowed down after seeing the officer and didn’t weave or show impairment in operating the car before stopping.

“Seeing a cop and slowing down is not the action of an impaired driver … it is the action of every driver,” Walsh said. “ … The cop jumped to a conclusion.”

Walsh also said Wangler pulled over in a safe spot and showed no indication he would flee. With the deputy on the stand, Walsh argued that smelling the odor of alcohol only indicates it was consumed and does not prove impairment.

Father charged after children fall from van

SHEBOYGAN – The father of two young children who fell out of a van in Sheboygan this week showed no signs of alcohol intoxication when police interviewed him about the incident, according to a criminal complaint.

Police earlier this week said they had arrested Robert W. Horsch for operating while intoxicated, but prosecutors on Thursday instead charged the 40-year-old Sheboygan man with two counts of felony child neglect, along with a third felony for knowingly operating a vehicle with a revoked license—all three counts involving bodily harm.

In a statement earlier this week about the incident, Sheboygan police said officers had arrested Horsch for OWI and child neglect. Prosecutors’ criminal complaint, though, notes there “were no signs that (Horsch) was intoxicated by alcohol,” though he had told police he was taking medications for depression and anxiety.

An officer had also reported noting Horsch’s eyes were red and that he was showing signs of “cotton mouth” during an interview. The complaint notes police obtained a search warrant to test a sample of Horsch’s blood; test results were still pending by the time prosecutors filed charges.

Witnesses reported on Tuesday seeing two children — one was 22 months and the other 3 years old — fall from the back of a van as it turned through a roundabout near the corner of South Eighth Street and Indiana Avenue in Sheboygan. One witness told police the vehicle kept going without stopping or braking after the children had fallen out.

The 22-month-old child reportedly had a broken bone in his skull and road rash on his shoulder and back, while the other child also had road rash on his back, abrasions on his chin and a chipped front tooth. Both were taken to a local hospital, and officials later decided to transport the younger child to Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee for treatment of the skull fracture, according to a criminal complaint filed with charges in Sheboygan County Court.

After identifying the children, police traveled to their home in Sheboygan, where officers found a 10-seater “work-type” van parked in front of the house. When another vehicle later dropped off Horsch at the home, he told officers that his two children — the same ones police had identified as falling out of the van — were missing.

Horsch “expressed disbelief” at officers’ report about his children falling out of the vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

He told officers he’d arrived at home with what he thought were three of his children after dropping off two of his other children at a nearby Christian family center.

He said he only noticed his two other children were missing after taking a third child into the house and getting her ready for bed.

Police often need the public’s assistance to solve crimes. If you can help, please contact the appropriate agency. Wochit

He told police that he’d noticed the two young children had gotten out of their car seats and were playing as he drove back home from the family center. He said he’d taken no further action beyond telling the children to settle down. He said he had assumed the children fell asleep after they became quiet near the back of the van.

Horsch also said he wasn’t aware the van’s back door could open from the inside, and that he hadn’t seen any interior lights come on or heard warning bells indicating the door had opened.

A complaint also notes he told police that he knew his driver’s license had been revoked as he drove that evening.

Former LAPD Sgt. Convicted in Rodney King Beating Arrested on Suspicion of DUI After Crash in Castaic

A man imprisoned for violating civil rights in the police beating of Rodney King, which sparked deadly riots in 1992, was arrested in Castaic on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, officials said Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Sgt. Stacey Koon declines to answer questions from the media on Aug. 6, 1992, after a bail and custody hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. (Credit: Vince Bucci / AFP / Getty Images)

Los Angeles Police Sgt. Stacey Koon declines to answer questions from the media on Aug. 6, 1992, after a bail and custody hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. (Credit: Vince Bucci / AFP / Getty Images)

Stacey Koon, 67, was driving his white, 1999 GMC Yukon on Heather Lane, west of Greenwood Place, when he crashed into a parked car around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The former Los Angeles police sergeant was the sole person involved in the crash. He was not hurt, authorities said.

However, officers at the scene determined Koon was under the influence of alcohol at the time, officials said.

He was then arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, according to CHP.  No record of Koon’s name was found in the L.A. County online inmate database.

CHP noted he was “polite and cooperative” during the investigation.

It is the same Stacey Koon who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for King’s beating in 1991, TMZ reported. Koon, a Castaic resident, was the LAPD sergeant in charge at the scene of Rodney King’s beating.

Although he and three other officers were acquitted of criminal charges in California court, Koon was subsequently convicted in federal court. He served the entirety of his 30-month sentence.

In 2012, two decades after the riots, Koon’s attorney told the Los Angles Times that Koon is a committed family man but does not talk about his personal life due to continued death threats.

“He’s moving forward with his life as best as he can,” Koon’s attorney told the Times.

Former LAPD Sgt. Convicted in Rodney King Beating Arrested on Suspicion of DUI After Crash in Castaic

Commissioner indicted in car crash that killed 2

Texas City Commissioner-At-Large Dee Ann Haney was indicted Thursday on manslaughter charges connected to a crash that killed a father and son last year on I-45, according to the Galveston County district attorney.

A Galveston County grand jury handed up indictments on two counts of manslaughter against Haney in the July 3 crash last year that killed Hong Phuc Le, 33, and his father, Van Duoc Le, 58.  Both charges are second degree felonies, carrying a range of punishment anywhere from probation or 2 to 20 years in prison.

Haney was also charged last year with two other counts of intoxication manslaughter in connection with the crash.

Haney and her attorney, Kevin Rekoff, did not respond to a request for comment.

Alexa Curtin Charged With Driving Under Influence Of A Drug

Alexa Curtin was reportedly charged recently with driving under the influence of a drug. Court records show that The Real Housewives of Orange County star Lynne Curtin’s daughter Alexa, who has had various legal issues, was charged with allegedly driving under the influence on June 6, 2017. Now she’s been charged with that — and was also cited for driving without a valid driver license.

Law enforcement sources told The Blast that Costa Mesa police officers were called to the scene of an accident at around 2:45 PM on that day in June. Insiders claimed to the website that Alexa had crashed her car and cops came to investigate.

While on the scene, the police believed that Alexa, who had been driving the car, appeared to be under the influence. “Police had her perform a field sobriety test, which we’re told she failed,” The Blast reported.

Alexa submitted to a blood test by police and the results came back allegedly showing a cocktail of prescription drugs, including Clonazepam (aka Klonopin) and opioids.

The RHOC wild child was officially charged on April 18 in Orange County Court and an arraignment has been set for June.