Bellevue PD concludes investigation into New Year’s Eve incident

April 9, 2014

By Staff

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NEW — 1:45 p.m. April 9, 2014

The Bellevue Police Department completed its investigation into a King County Sheriff’s deputy who was arrested in Newcastle last New Year’s Eve.

Police arrested the deputy in Newcastle Dec. 31, after a citizen called to report the officer was passed out behind the wheel in his parked patrol car. The deputy was placed under arrest for physical control of a motor vehicle, the legal equivalent of a DUI when no driving was observed.

The officer was not a member of the Newcastle Police Department, according to an email from Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine, and wasn’t working overtime in the city.

A certified drug recognition expert conducted the three-month investigation and showed the deputy was impaired by prescription medications, according to a release from Bellevue Police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate.

A search warrant was obtained to draw the deputy’s blood at the time of the incident, after which he was processed and released by Bellevue police, according to an earlier press release from King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West.

The Bellevue Police Department received the toxicology results from the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Lab on Feb. 12. The report indicated “None detected” for the standard screening conducted.

Those findings were inconsistent with observations of the suspect and statements made by the deputy that he took prescription medications during his shift. The Washington State Patrol Toxicology Lab did not have the ability to screen for these other drugs, Iafrate said, so blood samples were sent to labs in Pennsylvania for further testing.

Bellevue received those results March 31. The King County Sheriff and prosecuting attorney were notified that the deputy’s blood analysis had returned a positive result for presence of multiple prescription drugs. All have impairing qualities and contain warnings about operating machinery or vehicles.

The case has been submitted for review to prosecutors and charging decisions are up to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. The findings of the investigation were also released to the King County Sheriff’s Office. The Bellevue Police Department now considers the case closed.

The officer, a 46-year-old deputy, has worked for the King County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years and was assigned to Southeast King County. Prior to his time with King County, he worked as an officer in Hawaii.

The incident occurred at about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Starbucks parking lot at the corner of Newcastle Way and Coal Creek Parkway.

Three King County deputies, including a sergeant and captain, arrived on the scene and were able to wake the deputy. The officer showed “signs of impairment but alcohol was not suspected,” West said in an earlier release.

The Bellevue Police Department was asked to handle the criminal investigation, while the King County Sheriff’s Office conducted an administrative investigation.

The King County Sheriff’s Office investigation into policy violations is still open, according to Iafrate. The deputy is currently on “light duty” status, which means he has no police power but is performing clerical duties.

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