MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A jury found Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz not guilty in his DUI trial Wednesday.
Diaz hugged the officer who arrested him and shook hands with two others after the verdict was read.
“I want to start out by thanking God. This has been quite a roller coaster, very emotional,” said Diaz.
Earlier, jurors got a closer look at Diaz as he did his roadside sobriety test and heard from the DUI specialist who administered it. By noon, defense and prosecution had rested.
Diaz was arrested back in September 2015, charged with driving under the influence while coming back from Key West. The stop that prompted the arrest was caught on tape with a police body camera.
“How much did you have to drink today?,” Key West Officer Alex Rodriguez is heard saying in the video.
“I had two drinks,” said Diaz.
Diaz said it was difficult to sit in court and watch the video of his traffic stop.
“Like anybody who would be in a situation like this. It’s not the best. It’s embarrassing to be arrested and everything we went thru,” said Diaz.
He admitted speeding – going more than 70 miles while riding his Harley in Key West. When he was stopped, officers suspected him of being drunk. He denied it from the start.
In the test, you see Diaz stumble while walking the line. Defense attorneys had questions about it.
“Do you agree watching the video that 16 out of 18 times, he does not step off the line,” Defense Attorney Chris Lyons asked the Rodriguez in court on Wednesday.
“Yes,” replied Rodriguez.
“I’m not a mathematician but that’s high 80s, 90 percent,” said Lyons.
In the “hand to nose test,” you see Rodriguez make hand motions.
“What I was waving my hand back and forth like this it was indicating sway and when I was pointing down left or right or up that’s the direction in which the finger missed the nose,” said Rodriguez.
At one point, while speaking to Officer Rodriguez, Diaz told him he had balance issues.
“I’m telling you, I do have a balance issue, I do. And that’s why I wear this bracelet,” said Diaz in the video.
Defense attorneys questioned each test saying Diaz performed well despite a burn on his leg that he got from his motorcycle at the beginning of the stop, and despite other physical issues.
“Fifty pounds overweight, his 55 years of age, you see an obvious burn on his calf and he tells you he has balance issues to where he wears a magnetic bracelet on his wrist, you nevertheless want him to go forward with the exercise,” said Lyons.
“Yes,” replied Rodriguez.
In the video, you hear Diaz refuse to take a breathalyzer test several times even after he was brought into the DUI room. It’s something Diaz said he would do again.
“I know a lot of people in law enforcement, attorney’s and I just know stories of the machines and inaccuracies and I just don’t trust the machine,” said Diaz.
When asked if he had any regrets about getting on the bike after drinking, he said “No, I didn’t have regrets. I was actual enjoying the day.”
And there’s no hard feelings for the officer who arrested him. He hugged him and shook hands with the two who initially pulled him over.
“They said congratulations. I said thank you, shook their hand and said thank you for doing your job,” said Diaz.
Diaz said this had been tough on his family and he’s grateful they remained by his side.
“We left it in God’s hands and he was going to make sure that everything was going to be okay and that’s what it was,” said his wife Maria Diaz.
“I’m super proud of the way my dad handled everything he did. It was grace and passion and God as number one throughout the entire thing,” said his daughter Celine Diaz.