Thursday, August 31, 2006
Off-Duty Cop Is Accused of Sneaking Friend Out of Van After DWI Arrest
By T.J. Wilham
Copyright © 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
An Albuquerque police officer tried to get a buddy off the hook by sneaking him out of the department's BAT Mobile before he could be taken to jail on drunken-driving charges, police officials said.
Police are withholding the officer's name until they complete an internal investigation into the incident, which occurred late Friday.
The officer, who was off duty at the time, took the man out of the breath-alcohol testing van but brought the DWI suspect back to the scene once officers realized he was missing, police said.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said he believes the officer and the man are friends.
"This is obviously behavior we don't condone," Schultz said. "We expect our officers to make better decisions."
The officer has been placed on administrative duty and is working in a capacity that doesn't require him to use his police authority, he said.
The suspect faces charges of DWI first offense and reckless driving, according to court records.
Along with the internal investigation, police have also contacted the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
At about 10 p.m. Friday, an officer brought a suspect to the department's BAT Mobile, which was parked Downtown near the main police station, Schultz said. The suspect had been stopped in the 1400 block of Silver Saddle NE and was brought to the vehicle for a breath test.
He failed a breath test, police said, and was arrested. Paperwork to book him into Metropolitan Detention Center had been completed.
As he waited to be transported to the West Side jail, the man was handcuffed and placed in the BAT Mobile, police said. Shortly before midnight, an officer overseeing suspects in the vehicle left to take a bathroom break.
At this time, the off-duty officer, who had nothing to do with the suspect's arrest, went into the BAT Mobile and took him out of the vehicle. The officer then drove him to an unknown location, Schultz said.
When the officer returned from the bathroom, she noticed a suspect was missing. The officer then called a supervisor and other officers in the area were questioned.
The off-duty officer was seen near the BAT Mobile at the time the suspect went missing, Schultz said. Supervisors determined the officer had removed a suspect and ordered the officer to bring him back.
The suspect was taken back into custody and booked into jail.
APD spokesman John Walsh identified the man taken out of the mobile center as Jason Daskalos, 34.
A man with the same name and age as the suspect, when contacted by the Journal, at first said he knew nothing about the arrest and later said he had nothing to say about the incident.
The chief said he did not know if the officer took the suspect's charging documents or where he took him.
Schultz said the internal investigation is looking into where the officer took Daskalos and how the officer found out he had been arrested.
"I believe in holding all DWI offenders accountable for their actions and treating all who commit the crime the same," Schultz said. "There is no preferential treatment for anyone."