The public holds police officers in high regard. As such, we expect that they will act in the interest of public safety at all times, even while off duty. Recently, however, Chicago residents were horrified to hear about a fatal drunk driving accident caused by Chicago police officer who was driving the wrong direction down Lake Shore Drive.
Witnesses say that in addition to driving drunk and driving in the wrong direction, the officer was also speeding. At the time of the car accident, he was traveling an estimated 60 mph in a 45-mph zone. The two victims who were killed in the crash include a 25-year-old and a 27-year-old; both young men had been attending college in Chicago.
The 35-year-old officer was not on duty at the time of the crash. According to news reports, his blood-alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit. He was unable to attend his own hearing over the weekend because he is still hospitalized in serious condition. He faces charges of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide.
When learned that the drunk driver who killed her son was a police officer, the mother of one of the victims said it made her grief "10 times worse." She added: "He's supposed to be protecting us."
Other relatives were similarly outraged. The sister of one of the victims explained that "we were supposed to be going to my brother's graduation in a month. Now, we're planning his funeral."
Drunk driving is unacceptable regardless of who is behind the wheel. But when a police officer chooses to commit this negligent and illegal act, it violates the trust that the public places in law enforcement. The victims' families may wish to hold the officer accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to his criminal charges.
Source: Sacramento Bee, "Suburban Chicago officer charged in fatal crash," Mar. 17, 2013