So, we investigated. And now, we’re not the only ones asking questions.
Last week, Willoughby police gave a man and a woman a ride to an apartment complex.
The man, an off-duty Painesville police officer.
Just after midnight on Friday morning, witnesses called 9-1-1 from Euclid Avenue to report a man slumped behind the wheel at a fast-food drive-thru.
A caller said, “I just pulled up. And, there’s these two males, and they said this guy was just sitting there slumped over in his car.”
A dispatcher then asks, “And it’s a male slumped over?”
Another person at the scene jumps in and responds, “He didn’t know where he was. I asked him if he was drinking. He said, ‘No.'”
Then, witnesses called the I-Team.
We confirmed the driver reported “slumped” is a Painesville police officer. And, we surprised the woman who’d called 9-1-1.
Lindey Newman reacted with, “It obviously concerns me, ‘Cause if it was me, I wouldn’t have gotten away with it. I would have either gone to jail or went to the hospital.”
When Willoughby police released patrol car video to us, they did not give us any video of what happened first. No video of a patrol car pulling up to the scene. No video or audio of any officer interacting with that driver. Nothing to show us how police decided to simply give that driver a ride.
Dash camera video begins with the primary officer on the call pulling out with the off-duty officer and a woman in the back seat of the patrol car.
The Willoughby officer tells dispatch,”I have the vehicle owner here. Giving him a ride.”
And he asks the driver in the back seat, “You have your keys on you?”
The I-Team went to Willoughby police. Dispatch notes do not show anything about a medical emergency.
Police supervisors say the driver they questioned admitted to “a drink or two,” but was “not significantly impaired.”
Willoughby police do not wear body cameras. And, we’re told, the lead officer on the call did not record audio of the encounter with the driver.
Willoughby police point out their officers often give a ride home to drivers who are not impaired in situations similar to the one the other night.
Still, the City of Painesville is doing an internal investigation.
We’re not identifying the officer since he has not been charged with any crime and the internal investigation is just beginning.
The dash cam video shows the off-duty officer and the woman getting out of the patrol car at the apartment complex.
The Willoughby officer can be heard saying, “There you go. Get inside, dude.”
And the woman responds with, “So sorry, thank you very much.”
End of the ride. But not the end of the story.