Questions linger in Petaluma police officer's DUI charge
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
The Petaluma Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and the Sonoma County District Attorney's office all remained tight-lipped this week about the circumstances surrounding a Petaluma police officer being charged with drunken driving.
The 35-year-old officer, Ryan McGreevy, was charged with the DUI after he crashed a fellow officer's personal motorized scooter on the fairway of the fourth hole at the Rooster Run Golf Course during the Police Department's annual Hostage Negotiation Team fundraising tournament on Oct. 5. The incident did not initially lead to a police report or arrest, but did require a trip to the Petaluma Valley Hospital for McGreevy — presumably for injuries sustained during the crash.
After a month of looking into the matter internally, the Petaluma Police Department decided that the incident warranted an outside investigation and turned it over to the California Highway Patrol. CHP spent several months investigating and produced a 71-page report for the Sonoma County District Attorney, who then charged McGreevy with a single DUI count on Feb. 4.
When asked why the off-duty McGreevy was not administered a blood alcohol content test after the crash, all three agencies involved declined to comment. In fact, none of the agencies would even say whether on-duty Petaluma Police officers responded to 911 calls after the crash.
Officials at the Petaluma Police Department said they couldn't comment on the incident, describing it as a “personnel issue.” CHP Sgt. Chris Lineham, the officer who conducted the outside investigation into the incident, would not comment on the matter, nor would he provide the contents of the report he wrote.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's office also would not comment on the case, citing the ongoing nature of their investigation.
McGreevy — an eight-year veteran of the Petaluma Police Department who has received awards for his DUI enforcement work — was not on duty at the time of the crash, nor was he competing in the golf tournament that was attended by many department officers.
McGreevy was reportedly seen drinking from a red plastic cup and behaving in a boisterous manner by witnesses who called 911 after the crash.
But according to McGreevy's attorney, Michael Li, no sobriety tests were administered at the scene of the crash. Li also said that McGreevy is currently asserting his medical privacy rights to quash a prosecutor's request for Petaluma Valley Hospital medical records pertaining to his treatment.
McGreevy pleaded not guilty to the charge and is set to return to court March 25 for a settlement hearing. He remains on active duty during the case. McGreevy has an otherwise clean driving record, according to his attorney.
“I've handled thousands of DUI cases as a prosecutor,” said Li, who worked as a prosecutor for about six years before becoming a defense attorney. “I've never seen a DUI investigation happen one month after an incident, when there is no arrest for a DUI and no sobriety test administered. I've also never seen a DUI case on a golf course.”
Li questioned why no blood alcohol tests were conducted at the scene, and pointed out that in most DUI cases, blood alcohol test results are required to pursue prosecution. He also said that the California DMV had not suspended McGreevy's driver's license because McGreevy was never arrested for a DUI.
Driving a vehicle while drunk on private property is against the law, but it's unclear how often people are actually prosecuted for doing so.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's office said it does not keep statistics on the matter.
Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons said the department is waiting for the outcome of the criminal prosecution before taking any potential disciplinary action against McGreevy.
(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at email@example.com)
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