CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a delay in gathering evidence against the suspected hit-and-run driver charged with killing Cleveland Police officer David Fahey.
It may be harder now to tell if Israel Alvarez was drunk or high when investigators say he hit and killed the officer. The crash happened Tuesday morning as Fahey was putting out flares and directing traffic near another accident scene.
After police arrested Alvarez, they got a judge to sign a search warrant for a blood sample to be taken for drug and alcohol testing. But multiple sources say, investigators hit a big snag getting that sample because a lawyer at MetroHealth Medical Center had a problem with the wording of the court order.
The I-Team obtained the key part of the search warrant in question in this case. Cuyahoga County prosecutors have used it for decades. However, the hospital didn’t want to take the suspect’s blood sample because, a spokesperson says, the paperwork didn’t specifically direct that hospital to do it.
So unusual, we've learned investigators wanted to arrest that hospital lawyer for obstruction of justice.
Finally, the county judge who signed the court order and members of the county prosecutor’s office went to the hospital to work things out. In the end, taking the sample was delayed a couple of hours.
Hospital spokesperson Tina Arundel said, ”The way the warrant was worded, we thought it would be a problem. It needs to be specific. We needed to be sure the sample would be permissible in court.”
But Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement, “MetroHealth`s decision to defy a court order and thwart an investigation into the murder of a police officer is outrageous. It is not Metro's position to decide if a search warrant would 'hold up in court.' Defying a court order needlessly delayed the blood draw of a suspected impaired driver by two and one-half hours.”
So the deadly crash happened at 6 a.m., the arrest at noon, but the blood sample was not taken until late afternoon.
Retired Cleveland Police officer Jim Simone, known for his traffic enforcement, says he has arrested 4,000 drunk drivers. He says he has never had a medical facility refuse to take a blood sample for a case.
Simone said, “We have a dead policeman, and you're not gonna help us? For what reason is that? So I'm not sure what they were thinking." He added, "We're talking about alcohol and drugs in the system, and these things dissipate with time. The longer the delay, the less evidence we're gonna have to present."
We’ll be watching to see what comes back from any drug and alcohol test results.