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Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Two off-duty Seattle cops arrested in DUI case

By Steve Miletich
Seattle Times staff reporter

Two off-duty Seattle police officers, including one described as extremely combative and foul-mouthed, were arrested for investigation of driving under the influence after they allegedly switched seats in a car believed to be involved in a hit-and-run collision early Monday in the Sodo District.

The case will be referred to the City Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges of hit-and-run and driving under the influence against both officers, who were not identified in redacted police reports.

One of the officers, a female, registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.234 percent and 0.247 percent, above the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to a Seattle police report.

In the course of the testing, she cursed at the arresting officer, acted in an aggressive manner and gave him the middle finger in a North Precinct room equipped with a video camera, the report said.

Twice, the woman, who cried at times, tried to rush the arresting officer, only to be held back by a sergeant, the report said. She told the officer and sergeant she was driving her boyfriend around.

The other officer taken into custody registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.161 and 0.149 percent, according to a second police report.

The incident began when officers responded shortly after midnight Monday to a report of a collision near the intersection of First Avenue South and South Lander Street.

A witness had called police and reported that a woman was driving a Nissan Altima with what a police spokesman later described as having significant front-end damage.

The woman allegedly stopped the car in the middle of the street and switched places with a man in the passenger seat, according to a police statement.

Officers searching the area found the car several blocks south at First Avenue South and South Brandon Street. The car was two to three feet from the curb, with the engine running and "in the roadway," the statement said.

Officers recognized the two people in the car as off-duty Seattle officers who appeared to have been drinking, according to the statement.

The woman's speech was slurred and she appeared unsteady with bloodshot, watery eyes, according to the police report describing her actions.

The man, found in the driver's seat with the engine on, had a strong odor of intoxicants.

He said he had had a couple of beers and didn't know how the crash happened, the second police report stated.

A captain was called to the scene, along with officers assigned to a "Target Zero" holiday emphasis patrol.

The female officer was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence; the other officer was arrested on suspicion of being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence.

Traffic detectives were investigating whether the car struck a light pole or some other object, said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the department's chief spokesman.

Both officers were released after their arrest under ordinary procedures, the department's statement said. The Altima, which is not a city vehicle, was impounded as part of the investigation.

The case also was referred to the department's Office of Professional Accountability for an internal investigation.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com


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