Four County deputies suspended after melee at bar

Saratoga County Sheriff Mike Zurlo said four deputies have been suspended as the department investigates their roles in a bar fight last weekend in Saratoga Springs. (Skip Dickstein/Times Union) Photo: SKIP DICKSTEIN / 20043247A

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Four Saratoga County sheriff’s deputies have been suspended as the department investigates their roles in a large bar fight last weekend in Saratoga Springs that had to be broken up by city police.

The melee took place at 3 a.m. Saturday at The Reserve night club on Caroline Street when the off-duty deputies became involved in a brawl that spilled outside. A person briefed on the case said the off-duty deputies had been partying for hours and had attended their PBA’s annual golf outing at the Fairways of Halfmoon that began on Friday morning.

A person briefed on the incident said the deputies, who appeared intoxicated, physically threatened and briefly tangled with uniformed officers from the Saratoga Springs police force.

The fight followed a day of drinking that began at the annual golf outing for the sheriff’s deputies PBA at the golf course in Halfmoon. Some of the deputies left that event and went to The Mill, a bar in Round Lake, and later to Saratoga Springs.

Sheriff Michael Zurlo confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he had suspended the four deputies without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

“There’s no indication of any criminal activity,” the sheriff said.

Saratoga Springs police Chief Greg Veitch on Monday said that he had not reviewed video footage of his officers’ body-worn cameras, but he denied that they used force or were assaulted.

“Our officers were not involved in any sort of physical altercation with anyone, either patrons or the bouncers,” Veitch said. “The officers that were assigned to Caroline Street were flagged down by employees of The Reserve. As they approached the bar they saw the altercation spill onto the street. … They escorted the individuals out of the area.

Veitch confirmed that off-duty deputies were involved, but he said no one wanted to file a criminal complaint.

A person who attended the golf outing the prior day at Fairways of Halfmoon said some of the participants in that event drove a golf cart off a trail and into the woods.

Bruce Tanski, owner of the Fairways of Halfmoon, said his superintendent reported that no carts were damaged.

“In the past when carts have been damaged the police union would pay for the damage,” Tanski said.

Veitch declined to immediately release police records on the incident.

“Whenever something like this happens I always do an internal investigation about how we handled it,” he said. “That is going to delay us releasing anything.”

Drunk driver strikes police patrol car overnight

Abilene police said a man believed to be driving under the influence of alcohol struck a parked patrol vehicle after leaving a South 14th Street bar early Friday morning.

According to a police report, the driver fled the scene, but police were able to locate his vehicle at 2:30 a.m. Friday in the 1900 block of Grand Avenue.

When asked what happened, he told police he hit something but was told to keep driving by his passengers.

Police said the man was highly intoxicated and performed poorly on field sobriety tests administered at the scene where he was stopped.

A small amount of marijuana was found in the vehicle as well, police said.

He was charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana, according to police.

Head of Professional Standards Division arrested on suspicion of DUI

The head of the Portland Police Bureau’s Professional Standards Division was arrested early Thursday on suspicion of intoxicated driving, police say.

Commander Steve Jones, who’s been with the Bureau for 23 years, hit a telephone pole while driving a city vehicle on Southwest Third Avenue, according to Portland police. Jones was off-duty and traveling alone, police said. He wasn’t injured.

The Oregon State Police cited Jones for driving under the influence of intoxicants and released him, as is standard practice for the agency in Multnomah County, according to Portland police.

Portland police said they asked the state police to process the investigation because of Jones’ status as the Professional Standards Division commander. State police will continue the criminal investigation.

Jones is on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure, pending the results of the investigation. Captain Jeff Bell will serve as the division’s acting commander in Jones’ absence.

An administrative investigation will be presented to the Police Review Board, which is made up of Bureau and community members.

“As law enforcement officers, we are held to a higher standard, regardless of rank or classification, that demands accountability,” Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “This incident will be thoroughly investigated.”

Bus driver convicted of OWI, drug possession

A jury has convicted a former Brookfield school bus driver of driving while under the influence of drugs and drug possession.

Penny Wolf said she took an over-the-counter supplement to make her less anxious, unaware it contained the same active ingredient as the prescription sleeping pill, Ambien.

“Pretty much normal routine. I got up, made my tea, put a little bit of Phenibut in there because I’m very socially anxious, and that’s supposed to help with that,” Wolf said during her testimony Wednesday.

During the trial Tuesday, Swanson Elementary School parents relived that December 2016 day, when their kids had a scary school bus ride. Witnesses said Wolf was speeding, driving recklessly and blowing past stops.

“What stuck most in my mind was going past the children, and the children, which was not normal, going into the street to board the bus,” parent Christine Schnabl said.

“My daughter had to trudge through the snow to get on the bus, and I regret that I got her on the bus because I knew something was wrong,” parent Nicole McCumber said.

Swanson staff said she struck a curb pulling in the kids and didn’t seem right. They called police. Officers caught up with Wolf at the school bus terminal in Brookfield.

Body camera video shows her failing sobriety tests. They recovered a loaded handgun from her jacket, and three Adderall pills for which she didn’t have a prescription.

Wolf explained she must have been affected by an over-the-counter supplement she mixed in her tea not realizing it was a sedative.

She was acquitted of taking loaded gun on school grounds.

The judge ordered Wolf to remain jailed ahead of her sentencing next month. She could face three years in prison

Mistrial in Case of Driver Accused of Causing Deadly Crash While High on Extremely Potent Marijuana

The lack of training and education of dispensary employees was part of the defense for a woman accused of murder in San Diego.

Mistrial in Case of Driver Accused of Causing Deadly Crash While High on Extremely Potent Marijuana

A mistrial has been declared in the trial for a San Diego accused of driving high on marijuana and causing a crash that crumbled a vintage Porsche and killed a passenger two years ago

Her attorney told jurors Wednesday she was “catastrophically impaired” after smoking a strain of unrealized potency and argued she was not guilty of murder because she was given little or no warning of its strength.

Hyun Choi, 33, faces three felony charges including murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI under the influence of drugs causing injury.

Woman Who Killed Driver in Head-on Crash While High in Court

The crash happened on Easter 2016. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan reports from the courthouse.

(Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018)

She was arrested on March 27, 2016, following a collision on Pomerado Roadbetween Caminito Alto and Sycamore Test Road.

Amanda Walzer, 43, was riding in a 1956 Porsche that had only lap seat belts and no airbags

When Choi’s vehicle traveled over the raised median, it collided with the Porsche, killing Walzer and injuring the Porsche driver.

An image of the fatal collision shown in court.
Photo credit: San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

When her trial began Wednesday, attorney Stephen G. Cline told jurors that his client cannot be convicted of murder because his client had been sold Jupiter OG after a brief visit to a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

Choi “made a naive and negligent mistake,” he said, adding the lack of training of marijuana dispensary staff compounded the issue.

Choi, who had a medicinal marijuana card for social anxiety disorder, purchased the marijuana based on the packaging after “roughly 9 minutes” of consultation with dispensary employees, Cline said.

He said she pulled over on her way home, took a couple of puffs and started driving.

Trial Begins for Woman Suspected of Driving High in Deadly Crash

Opening statements have begun in the trial against a former San Diego State student accused of driving under the influence of marijuana in a deadly crash. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan reports.

(Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018)

The collision took place approximately six miles from the dispensary.

Cline said his client lost her hearing as well as control over her arms and legs before the crash.

“She had no idea what she left that store with in regards to strength,” the attorney told jurors.

Officers found two different types of marijuana in Choi’s vehicle as well as a marijuana pipe that was still warm to the touch, the prosecutor said.

An officer testified in court Thursday that Choi tried to hide a pipe after the crash. Her attorneys challenged the statement and a judge ordered the prosecution to produce a report of the officer’s observation.

When they could not find the report, the judge determined the officer’s testimony tainted the jury and a mistrial was declared.

The judge and attorneys are scheduled to meet next week to determine a new trial date.

NBC 7 has reached out to the dispensary involved to get more information regarding Choi’s visit.

Choi faces a maximum of 22 years to life if convicted of all three charges.

Suspected DUI Driver Causes Major InjuriesSuspected DUI Driver Causes Major Injuries

A woman in her 30s allegedly smoking marijuana hit two people, a 49-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman, in a 1956 Porsche Sunday authorities confirmed. NBC 7’s Matt Rascon reports.

(Published Sunday, March 27, 2016)

Police officer charged in deadly drunk driving crash

DETROIT (WXYZ) – Editor’s Note: The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office originally stated that Michael Davis, the defendant, was a Detroit Police reserve officer. The prosecutor’s office has corrected that information, stating that Davis is a Wayne County reserve officer.

A Wayne County reserve police officer is facing several charges for an alleged drunk driving crash that killed a man Saturday night.

According to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, 58-year-old Michael Davis was driving his truck on at the intersection of Grand River and Meyers when he struck 30-year-old Daniel Starks who was riding a motorcycle.

Police say officers arrived on scene and rendered medical aid to Starks and he was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police say Davis had slurred speech and a flask in the front cup holder of his truck, and it’s believed he was driving under the influence of alcohol and was in possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

Davis is charged with operating under the influence of causing death, a 15-year felony, reckless driving causing death, a 15-year felon and possession of a firearm while under the influence, a misdemeanor.

It’s expected that Davis will be arraigned on those charges Tuesday afternoon.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office responded in a statement saying that Davis is no longer a reserve, due to the recent incident. The statement goes on to say that Davis was in his personal vehicle at the time of the incident, and that reserve officers are volunteers, not employees of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Supervisor charged with boating under the influence

Chad Green, Republican Candidate York Co.

York County Supervisor Chad Green was arrested Saturday night on the Poquoson River.

Ellen Bolen, a spokeswoman for Virginia Marine Resources Commission, said Green was charged with not having a stern light on his boat, boating under the influence, and refusal and failing to stop.

Marine Police stopped him sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday, she said. She did not know whether the boat he was driving was his.

Green was taken into custody at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, where he was later released.

The investigation is ongoing, Bolen said.

In a statement, Green said he was on his way home from dinner at a local waterfront restaurant with his wife and her friend when he noticed a VMRC boat with its lights on. He said he didn’t realize they were approaching his boat.

“Once I realized they were approaching us, I signaled VMRC that I was going to my lighted dock (approximately 500 feet away) for their stop for both our safety,” he said, adding it was “never my intent” to give the impression he was evading the police and that he had “great respect” for law enforcement.

“Alcohol was involved and I did make errors in judgement and want to acknowledge that I will accept any and all responsibility for my actions and will work every day to do better to serve the people of York County,” he wrote in the release.

Shelley Ward, a spokeswoman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, said VMRC called YPSO for assistance, and a deputy was on scene to assist if needed.

“I’m not sure the extent of our deputy’s involvement,” she said, adding the sheriff’s office doesn’t comment on other entities’ investigations.

Drunk driver crashes into police headquarters

An alleged drunk driver crashed through a fence at Chattanooga police headquarters late Friday night.

The driver was identified as Darwin Patterson, 45. He was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, driving left of the center line, reckless driving, driving under the influence 2nd offense, no proof of insurance and driving without a license.

A Chattanooga police officer pumping gas at the Amnicola Highway facility heard tires squealing and an engine revving before he heard a loud boom, more squealing tires and another boom shortly after 11 p.m., according to an affidavit. He then found a red pickup truck had crashed into a telephone pole before driving into a fence surrounding the service center.

The driver refused to answer the officer’s questions, stating over and over he was afraid of white police, according to the affidavit. He also gave the officer a fake name, according to the affidavit. The officer believed the man was drunk due to his slurred speech and the smell of alcohol. He was taken to a local hospital to get stitches in his lip from an injury sustained during the crash.

While at the hospital, Patterson cursed loudly and “got up into Officer Cookes face and squared up to him like he wanted to fight,” according to the affidavit.

Patterson was then restrained while the doctor finished stitching his lip. He was then taken to the county jail.

Officers served Patterson with a search warrant to test his blood alcohol level. Patterson refused to allow nurses to take a blood sample and attempted to fight the corrections officers, according to the affidavit. He was put into a restraining chair so blood could be drawn. Results of the test are pending.

Patterson was also charged with a DUI in 2003.

The department account tweeted the following message: “DO NOT DRINK & DRIVE, but if you choose to…crashing the vehicle you are driving at police headquarters makes it much easier for CPD Officers to arrest you. #dontdrinkanddrive”

Man faces charges in Knox County buggy crash that killed teen, hurt 2

MOUNT VERNON, OH (AP) — Authorities say an Ohio man who struck an Amish buggy from behind, killing a teenage boy and injuring his father and younger brother, has been jailed and charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

The crash occurred Friday afternoon on State Route 3 in central Ohio’s Knox County. The State Highway Patrol says 59-year-old Earnest Bennett, of Fredericktown failed to stop in time, killing 13-year-old Andy Miller and injuring 5-year-old Leroy Miller and 35-year-old Albert Miller. All three were tossed from the buggy after it was struck.

Albert Miller was taken to a Columbus hospital for serious injuries. Leroy Miller was flown to a children’s hospital in Columbus for life-threatening injuries.

Grass poisoning could be cause for ‘drunk’ kangaroos

Kangaroos in Australia have been affected by canary grass, veterinarians said. VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Kangaroos in Australia have been affected by canary grass, veterinarians said.

— Veterinarians in Australia are conducting tests to determine whether kangaroos that appear to be drunk have actually suffered neurological damage because of a strain of grass.

The veterinarians, from the University of Melbourne, said Phalaris aquatica — a common pasture crop in central Victoria — have caused the suffering among eastern gray kangaroos. Wildlife officials said the kangaroos were suffering from Phalaris “staggers,” which is common among sheep and cattle that graze in Australia.

“A kangaroo with full-blown toxicity is just horrible,” Manfred Zabinskas from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue told Guardian Australia. “Their head flies around like they have got a broken neck; they summersault; they crash into fences and trees … they look like they are drunk.”

Phalaris, also known as canary grass, is a tall grass common to southeastern Australia. Some farmers have avoided planting the species because the “staggers” can cause heart failure among animals.

In domestic animals, the condition can be controlled by adding copper into their diet. But in kangaroos, the condition is believed to be irreversible.