Ohio Police Captain Gets Pulled Over While Driving Drunk; Officers Let Him Go Home
The chief weighs in: "Poor choices were made on Christmas night."
The police chief in Twinsburg, Ohio, is calling for more accountability from his own department after his officers let a Cleveland police captain go home without charges despite driving drunk.
Twinsburg Police Department Chief Christopher Noga issued a statement on Wednesday explaining the incident.
After receiving reports of an erratic driver, the officers pulled over John Sotomayor of the Cleveland Police Department on Christmas at 11:21 p.m. Sotomayor identified himself as an officer, and the Twinsburg cops believed he was showing signs of impairment.
A sergeant then arrived on the scene and decided to release Sotomayor. Sotomayor's wife picked him up; his vehicle was impounded and his gun taken.
A Cleveland station, Fox 8, obtained body camera footage from the stop and brought attention to the incident. The footage does not show officers conducting a drunk driving test. It does show officers acknowledging that Sotomayor is "highly intoxicated" and saying they were "giving him a courtesy" by allowing him to contact his wife.
Presented with the footage, the Twinsburg Police Department investigated the incident.
The station also reported that only one officer was wearing a body camera that night. Noga said that the sergeant who cleared Sotomayor should have been equipped with one.
Noga's statement included the following reflection:
Poor choices were made on Christmas night. The first was Mr. Sotomayer's decision to place the public in harm's way. The second poor choice was made by my officers to treat Mr. Sotomayer differently from anyone else in relation to their interaction with him. While the officers ensured that an impaired individual would not drive away, the fact that Mr. Sotomayer is a Cleveland Police officer should not have weighed any differently in this situation. In fact, this should hold greater weight as the choice to not arrest Mr. Sotomayer that night has affected public trust not only for us, but for law enforcement as a profession.
Noga added that the Twinsburg officers were "fully counseled" following the review.
Sotomayer has now been charged with having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, a misdemeanor.