This kind of stuff just makes me sick. I try really hard to be objective when writing about police misconduct, but this one got right under my skin.
Here are the details on this case, according to the local Fox affiliate in Milwaukee:
It was February 20th, 2013, and Deputy Quiles was working the night shift on patrol at General Mitchell International Airport. As he pulled out onto Howell Avenue to make his rounds, he T-boned a passing car and sent it spinning into a tree.
“Very scary,” Weyker [the driver of the other car] recalls.
Her spine was already fused with steel. Now, she had a fractured neck to go with it.
“It was a miracle I wasn’t paralyzed,” she said.
As rescue workers tended to Weyker, police and Sheriff’s deputies started asking questions.
“One asked if I had anything to drink that night,” she said. “And I told them a few sips from a friend’s drink.” A deputy noted a light odor of alcohol on her breath. He said her speech was slurred. And her eyes looked red and glassy.
“I explained to him my eyes were red and glassy because I was crying,” she said.
Instead of doing their jobs by fully investigating the accident and what caused it, the deputies jumped to the immediate conclusion that Weyker was drunk and had been at fault.
The article goes on to explain what happened next, according to Weyker’s mother and her attorney:
“She was in traction and just sitting there. She was crying and said they accused her, they arrested her and accused her of something she didn’t do,” [Weyker’s mother] said.
Her lawyer, Todd Korb, says the arrest is surprising, since there was virtually no evidence that she was drunk. “I can’t say it is necessarily a cover up, but it is suspicious,” Korb said.
Drunk driving defense expert Andrew Mishlove says it’s questionable if deputies had cause to arrest her at all. “She was the suspect right from the start,” he said.
If deputies had cause to arrest her, he says, it’s only because of the statements made by the deputy involved in the crash.
You would hope and expect that since there was scant evidence of any wrongdoing by Weyker, the deputy involved in the crash would clear things up by, at the very least, giving an accurate statement about his role in the crash.
But again, no:
In his official report, Deputy Quiles wrote that he stopped at the stop sign and looked both ways before pulling out. He told a Milwaukee police officer that he never saw any headlights, even though Weyker’s Camry had lights that come on automatically. “I knew I was innocent this whole time,” Weyker declared.
The truth might never have surfaced were it not for video from a nearby airport surveillance camera. It shows what investigators say is Deputy Quiles’ squad car traveling west on Hutsteiner Avenue, then continuing onto Howell without making a complete stop, as Quiles claimed in his report. The Sheriff’s Office knew about the video just two days after the crash. But no one told Weyker.
So, the deputy not only lied about what happened, but he also allowed an innocent person to take the blame for what he himself caused. On top of all that, the County did nothing whatsoever to help Weyker:
Instead, the County sent letters blaming her for the crash and threatening legal action if she didn’t pay for the damage.
Of course, if Weyker was drunk, it would have been easy to pin the blame on her. But less than a month after the crash, test results showed she had no alcohol in her system. And by July, her drug test came back negative too. Five months after the crash, it was clear Weyker had been stone cold sober.
But still the case didn’t go away.
“I don’t think it is fair at all,” Weyker said.
Five more months passed before a prosecutor finally looked at the case and declined to file charges. But even then, Weyker says, she was left in the dark.
“No one called me.”
“She had to live with this hanging over her head for way too long,” Mishlove said.
And, if you thought the deputy involved has since been fired or received any significant consequences, again you would be wrong. He did receive a brief suspension for “damaging County equipment,” but is otherwise milking the situation for all it’s worth:
Deputy Quiles has not worked in more than a year since the crash. He has exhausted his injury pay and has now filed for permanent duty disability for injuries he suffered in the crash he caused. His application is still pending before the County’s Employee Retirement System.
All of this is happening, despite the fact that reports written at the time of the crash indicate Deputy Quiles suffered only minor injuries and was “treated and released” at Froedtert Hospital.
To summarize, then: A law enforcement officer–who swore an oath to protect and serve his community–illegally runs a stop sign, seriously injures someone, blames that person for the accident, causes her to be arrested and charged with a crime, and then only tells the truth once video evidence showed that he was indeed at fault.
Nice bit of police work there.
And, if the officer was somehow confused about what he was supposed to do in this situation, it’s right there in the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department Code of Conduct. In fact, it’s the very first one on the list. The very first one:
A police officer acts as an official representative of government who is required and trusted to work within the law. The officer’s powers and duties are conferred by statute. The fundamental duties of a police officer include serving the community, safeguarding lives and property, protecting the innocent, keeping the peace and ensuring the rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.
If you find any of this concerning, contact Milwaukee County Sheriff, David A. Clarke, and let him know how you feel.
David A. Clarke Jr., Sheriff
821 West State Street, Room 107
Milwaukee, WI 53233
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