Not all cops are bad. But every department has a few Officer Powells on the force. Besides harassing motorists on their way to the ER Officer Powell also attempted at least one DWI arrest. Allegedly, he (shock!) told conflicting stories at the scene, on the stand, and in his police reports.
In one Denton County case, dismissed by prosecutors last year, Powell can be heard on his dashboard video camera acting hostile toward a man he pulled over for speeding.
“What’s your hurry?” Powell asked.
“No hurry, sir.”
“All right, try again,” Powell said. “What’s your hurry? … Don’t lie.”
Powell can then be heard telling another officer that he didn’t smell any alcohol on the man but was going to check him for intoxication anyway.
The man refused to blow into a Breathalyzer but did perform field sobriety tests of speech and balance. Powell arrested the man on a DWI charge.
Later, at a state hearing to determine whether the man would lose his driver’s license for refusing the breath test, Powell contradicted what he said on video. “And you asked him to step out of the car for what reason?” the man’s attorney, Kimberly Griffin Tucker, asked Powell, according to a transcript.
“Because I smelled alcohol on his breath,” Powell replied.
When Tucker then played the video, Powell gave another explanation.
“Well, I didn’t say exactly when I smelled the alcohol,” he said. “Sometimes when I get people out, I can smell it more than in their vehicle because a lot of times people won’t exactly look at me.”
The judge, unconvinced that Powell had probable cause, declined to suspend the man’s license in the December 2007 arrest. And Denton County prosecutors dismissed the DWI charge. They didn’t feel they had enough evidence to make a case, prosecutor Jamie Beck said.
Of the defendant’s actions on tape, Beck said: “He’s being very polite, very cooperative, and his mental faculties appear to be intact.”
“The officer is kind of a jerk,” the prosecutor said, “so that’s going to count against us when we’re trying it in court.”
Remember that “protection” in the DWI roadblock law that requires reasonable suspicion to require SFSTs? If Officer Powell hadn’t been stupid (or honest) enough to admit on camera he couldn’t smell alcohol a judge may very well have ruled he had RS to conduct SFST.
Here is the video of the stop. This is your checkpoint future Texas. We will remember these pre roadblock (PR) days as a simpler time when Texans were able to avoid the wrath of rogue cops by obeying every traffic law. Glory days, they’ll pass you by, glory daaaaaaa aaa aaays.