HIALEAH GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The cell phone video shows Hialeah Gardens police Officer Angel Gonzalez staggering across Southwest 137th avenue last week, allegedly stinking drunk. Gonzalez had just sideswiped a truck. He was on his way home, about 3:45 p.m., after completing his shift at three o’clock.READ MORE: Storms Causing Flight Delays At South Florida Airports
A motorist, who has asked not be identified, spotted the cop in a Silver Nissan on the Palmetto Expressway driving erratically.
“He was weaving in and out of lanes. I thought at first that he was texting,” the motorist told CBS4’s Gary Nelson. “Then I realized that he was drunk.”
The motorist called 911 and continued to follow the weaving Nissan until it sideswiped a semi-tractor trailer near Tamiami airport.
“He crashed. He crashed while I was on the phone with 911,” the motorist said. The man then used his cell phone to record the police officer stumbling about the roadway. At one point in the video the cop appears to catch himself as he is about to fall over backwards.
The motorist was stunned to realize the man in the uniform, driving the unmarked car, was a police officer.
“I thought he was a private security guard or something, but then when I saw that he was an officer, and seeing a gun obviously fully loaded, ready to fire, and the officer drunk, it’s not a pleasant scene.”
According to a police report, three Miami-Dade officers said Gonzalez had “an odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath, his eyes were glassy, his gait was unsteady and his speech was thick-tongued.”
Gonzalez claimed he had not been drinking, but had taken Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication. He failed a roadside sobriety test and refused to submit to a breath alcohol test. He was booked for DUI.
Hialeah Gardens Police Chief Van Toth told CBS4 News he tried, unsuccessfully, to fire Gonzalez in 2012 after the officer had a crash in his marked police car, returned to the station and went home without reporting the accident. In the end, the police officer’s union negotiated a deal that saw him suspended for one year and busted down from sergeant to patrol officer.
Chief Toth said in another incident Gonzalez was charged with a hit and run, leaving the scene of a fender bender, in Coral Gables last year. The case was dismissed, however, when the alleged victim failed to testify.READ MORE: COVID In Florida: 5,520 New Cases, 9 Deaths Reported On Sunday
The chief said the motorist who followed Gonzalez and called police last week performed a valuable public service.
The motorist told CBS4 News he was just trying to protect people.
“My aim was to prevent him from crashing and doing serious harm to himself or to somebody else,” the man said.
Gonzalez won’t be doing any driving anytime soon. Refusal to take a breath alcohol test carries with it an automatic one year suspension of your driver’s license.
Gonzalez is suspended with pay, pending criminal and internal affairs investigations. Given that he was allegedly reeking of alcohol and intoxicated shortly after ending his shift, among the questions being asked is whether he was drinking or drunk while on patrol.
Chief Toth said he will attempt, again, to terminate the officer.
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