I-TEAM: Cleveland police captain punished after getting break during traffic stop

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — The FOX 8 I TEAM has learned the Cleveland Police Department has now punished a captain for what happened Christmas night when it was revealed he’d been suspected of drunk driving, yet he was simply allowed to get a ride home.

Records show John Sotomayor was suspended for 10 days without pay.

A Cleveland police internal investigation found he violated departmental rules for procedure and conduct since he had his city-issued weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

Months earlier, Twinsburg police charged Sotomayor with having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. For the criminal case, he received a fine and orders to go through a drivers ed program.

Police video showed on Christmas night Twinsburg officers found Sotomayor behind the wheel of his truck on the side of the highway. The officers suspected he was drunk.

Twinsburg officers took his gun and towed his truck, but they let him call his wife for a ride home.

The I-TEAM put a spotlight on the case, and the Twinsburg Police Department took another look at it. They found the officers should not have given the Cleveland Police Captain special treatment.

Twinsburg Police conducted an internal investigation, looking at how their officers gave that break along the highway. And, they then filed a criminal case.

Twinsburg Police Chief Christopher Noga later said, “I don’t want the public to think that this is what we’re all about.”

He said what happened along the highway on Christmas night hurts the public trust in law enforcement.

The chief said he and his command staff spoke to the officers involved about policies and what they did. However, they did not get disciplined.

The chief identified the Twinsburg officers involved as Maggie Hunter and Sgt. Robert Waltz. He called them “shining stars” in the department.

“Definitely not termination. Not a 6-month suspension. I want them to learn and move on. I think I can say for sure that it’s not going to happen again,” the chief told the I-TEAM.

Personnel files for those officers show high marks.

However, only one of the officers wore a body camera. The chief confirmed the sergeant did not and he should have. The chief says the sergeant’s regular body camera needed to be repaired, but he should have grabbed another one.

As for the internal discipline, the Fraternal Order of Police, the union for  Cleveland Police Supervisors, told Fox 8 Sotomayor pleaded no contest to the departmental charges and “accepted responsibility” for what happened. The FOP also says the ten-day suspension is standard for Cleveland Police in these kinds of cases.

Continuing coverage, here.

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