Did Chicago Police try to cover up a DUI fatality case?

Officer Richard Bolling (picture by Terrance James, Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago newspapers have been reporting on the ongoing trial of Chicago Police Officer Richard Bolling, who is accused of being drunk behind the wheel (while off-duty) when he hit and killed 13 year old Trenton Booker.

The Chicago Tribune story is here; the Chicago Sun-Times story is here.

According to reports, Chicago police officers allowed Officer Bolling to leave the scene during their investigation to use a bathroom, they did not conduct field sobriety tests for several hours, appeared to have graded those tests on a curve (they wrote that he had passed the walk and turn test despite the arrest videos shows him exhibiting at least three clues of impairment which is considered a “failure” according to NHTSA), and waiting even longer to give him a breath test. When he finally took a breath test, he was 0.079, just barely under the legal limit.

The implication is clear — that had Officer Bolling taken a breath test a few hours earlier, he would have been over the legal limit (a good rule of thumb is that people’s BAC drop about 0.01 an hour, after they have reached their peak level of intoxication).

It does not seem that Officer Bolling was falling down drunk; instead, it appears it was a borderline case of someone who may have been impaired. He certainly did not help his case that he acted callously and indifferently as a teenaged victim lay dying (Officer Bolling was recorded joking about the officers eating his White Castle burgers that were in his car, and sounding upset about the damage to his car as officers investigated the crash). It was reported that it was recorded on tape that a superior officer told Bolling that they would try to do everything they could to help him out.

Had Chicago Police acted with more concern for the victim than for their fellow officer, they might have made a much stronger case for conviction than there appears to be here.

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