An off-duty Gwinnett County Georgia police officer who was arrested and charged with drunken driving after being stopped for speeding was found not guilty Friday by a local judge.
“We feel that our trooper did his job and took a dangerous driver off of the road,” said Larry Schnall, spokesman for the State Patrol. “That trooper is an instructor in how to make proper and effective DUI traffic stops.”The judge in the case, Recorders Court Judge Patricia Muise, in Gwinnett County Ga., was not available for comment.
But Muise’s judicial assistant, Kim Everett, defended the judge’s actions.
“The evidence was presented in court and she made a decision based on the evidence,” Everett said. The trial was held Jan. 29, and Everett said she watched the proceedings.
The traffic stop occurred about 1 a.m. on Dec. 28 in the Lawrenceville area of I-85 in Georgia, according to the State Patrol.
Schnall said Cpl. Kevin Brandle was driving a GMC Yukon with two other people in the car. Cpl. Charles Chapeau, a Georgia state trooper, pulled the driver over for speeding and noticed that the occupants in the car were trying to hide some items. Chapeau also saw open containers of beer in the car.
The driver, Brandle, smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, Schnall said.
Chapeau charged Brandle with driving under the influence of alcohol and with having open containers of alcohol in his car, Schnall said, and Brandle’s passengers also were cited for having open containers of alcohol.
Brandle refused to take a breath test or do a field sobriety test and told the trooper that he was a Gwinnett police officer, Schnall said.
The traffic stop was videotaped and a microphone in the patrol car captures the officer cursing at the trooper, Schnall said.
Chapeau, who made the traffic stop, is a supervisor with the State Patrol and is an instructor who teaches other troopers how to detect drunken drivers.
Christine Koehler, Brandle’s defense attorney, said her client was innocent.
“The judge reviewed all the evidence, including the videotape and made her decision,” said Koehler. “Any time the Georgia State Patrol loses a case they get upset. But [Brandle] is a superior officer who has received many awards.”
Brandle has been working for the Gwinnett Police Department for about eight years, said Cpl. Illana Spellman, a department spokeswoman.
Brandle had been working in the Special Operations department, she said, but was given a “desk job” after the arrest.
The incident is being investigated by the internal affairs department, Spellman said.
Atlanta Journal Constitution Article