Video: Moriarty says officer falsified reports
DUI is a strange sort of crime, because so many DUI arrests are based totally on a police officer’s discretion. While probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear DUI is that of a falling down drunk who gets behind the wheel of a car and causes a horrible crash, the reality is that most DUI arrests do not involve an accident, and a substantial percentage of them consist of people who are barely to slightly affected by alcohol.
But then there is a whole subsection of DUI cases where the person was not under the influence of alcohol, perhaps did not even drink at all. This is because a DUI case can be entirely based upon an arresting officer’s say-so.
In other words, if an officer claims, honestly or not, that he or she believed that the defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol, that is sufficient for a DUI arrest, and an automatic license suspension. In Illinois (and most states) that license suspension will be upheld even if the person is found not guilty, so long as the officer was reasonable in his or her (mistaken) suspicion. The ramifications of a wrongful arrest can follow a person for life.
Which brings me to the latest documented example of police abuse, from New Jersey. Luckily for Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, there was dash cam video of the stop and arrest, which should vindicate him. Without the video, it would be his word against the arresting officer.
The video is quite remarkable. When it begins, the officer positions his squad car on a median facing oncoming traffic. The Assemblyman’s Murano drives past doing nothing remarkable. Yet the officer makes a u-turn (driving over the sidewalk), runs a red light (without using his lights or siren) and drives at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (in a 25 mph zone) to catch up with him. When the officer does catch up, he doesn’t pull over the Assemblyman. Instead, he stays behind for a while, while the Murano moves along slowly in traffic. It is only when the Assemblyman made a right turn that he gets pulled over.
I can’t seem to figure out how to embed video on WordPress, but you can view all the dash cam video at NBC Philadelphia’s website at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Police-Release-Surveillance-Video-of-Paul-Moriarty-Arrest–174953311.html
Upon being pulled over, Moriarty is told by the officer that he had cut him off. This is a lie. It is true that Moriarty did not get over into the right turn lane until just before he turned. However, there were no cars (including the squad car) in the right hand turn lane, so no one was “cut off.”
During the initial interaction, the officer lies to Moriarty and treats him in an accusatory fashion. Moriarty seems stunned to be accused of drunk driving, and cannot believe he is being asked to do field sobriety tests. From what is visible on the video, Moriarty does not seem to be impaired. He is not confused, his speech is normal, he maintains his balance, he is able to stand on one leg for the required 30 seconds (and it seems like he could have kept on standing like that for quite a while) and (to the extent it is on the video) he walks the line fine. For this he was arrested.
According to news reports, Moriarty refused a breath test, but seven hours after the arrest, went for a blood test which revealed no alcohol in his system. This is persuasive to me, since alcohol eliminates from the blood system at a rate of about 0.01 an hour, so if he was over 0.08 at the time of arrest he would still have some alcohol in his system at the time of the blood test.
From my review of the video, it is clear that Assemblyman did nothing wrong, did not drive in an impaired fashion and was not drunk. It is equally clear that for some unknown reason, this officer used his badge and authority to pick the Assemblyman’s vehicle out of traffic, conduct a baseless stop, make false accusations, make a wrongful arrest, inflict emotional distress, damage the Assemblyman’s reputation and put him at risk for a license suspension and criminal conviction.
Yet more evidence of why Chicago Police officers were sabotaging their own dash cam equipment.