A judge has ruled that key evidence against a police officer accused of causing a deadly drunk driving accident cannot be used against him in court, the Sun-Times reported.
The fatal Chicago car accident occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 2007 and claimed the lives of two young men. The officer had been videotaped drinking a lot alcohol just minutes before the crash. However, a judge ruled this week that the evidence was illegally seized and cannot be used, severely weakening the case against him.
The victim’s family and anti-drunk-driving advocates are enraged by the ruling as safety advocates continue to warn the public about the dangers of drinking and driving. As we reported earlier this year on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog, one-third of all fatal Cook County traffic accidents are linked to drunk driving. In all, more than 2,000 of the 6,000 fatal accidents that have occurred in Cook County over the past 15 years have involved a drunk driver.
The mother and two sisters of one of the victims were arrested outside the courtroom after allegedly confronting Cook County sheriff’s deputies. The officer was charged with four counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of reckless homicide. Videotape from the Martini Ranch Bar showed him consuming large amounts of alcohol just minutes before the crash in the early morning hours of Nov. 22, 2007.
His attorneys challenged his arrest because two fellow officers and a paramedic said he did not appear intoxicated and did not give him a breathalyzer test until several hours after the accident. The judge ruled there was not probable cause to arrest because a lieutenant who testified he believed the officer was drunk was not a credible witness.
Prosecutors said they will decide by the next hearing, scheduled for May 25, whether to continue with the case. The victim’s relatives fear it will now be impossible to win a conviction.