When off-duty Chicago Police Officer John Ardelean, 36, was involved in a suspected DUI accident on Thanksgiving that killed two people — Miguel Flores, 22, and Erick Lagunas, 21 — he was not arrested immediately after the crash or at the hospital. Instead, a police Lt. John Magruder ordered him arrested hours after the crash when he smelled alcohol on the officer. An judge has now thrown out the charges due to a lack of probable cause. In the ultimate twist, family members of the victims were then arrested when they express outrage at the decision.
This is only the latest story of a Chicago police officer facing allegations of drunk driving,here.
In the case, prosecutors told the court that a video from a nightclub showed Ardelean drinking three beers and four shots in a little more than two hours.
None of the four officers at the scene stated that they smelled alcohol. Testimony indicated that Magruder had talked to an assistant state’s attorney who allegedly told him that Ardelean was under scrutiny for a previous crash in which an officer was not charged with drunken driving. The judge slammed Margruder in the decision.
Critics have attacked Circuit Judge Thomas Gainer as being pro-police in such decisions, including his controversial acquittal of three Chicago police officers in an off-duty beating of several businessmen in a West Loop bar. Gainer is a former Cook County prosecutor.
The charges were previously dropped by the prosecutors against the officer. However, months after the investigation was ended, a video emerged that showed a woman pouring a drink down Ardelean’s throat and the officer grabbing a beer as he left a bar. He was then charged with two counts of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated DUI.
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