Anoka County sheriff’s detective Patrick O’Hara admitted to downing eight drinks within four hours before stepping into his car and driving off with his wife in the passenger seat, then rolling over into a ditch in a single-vehicle crash last year.
But investigators believe he drank much more than that except they will never know because a dashcam video shows the 21-year veteran walking away from the crash while paramedics attend to his injured wife who was trapped inside the car.
Surveillance video then shows him being picked up by his son at a nearby gas station who drives him away. When state troopers finally tracked him down more than seven hours later and tested his blood alcohol content, he was no longer legally drunk. He avoided a DUI arrest but was booked on a charge of criminal vehicular operation anyway.
However, it appears as if the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office did not even follow through on that charge because “he provided his information and remained at the scene for 20 minutes. In addition, he was never told to stay at the scene,” according to Fox 9 News.
Now imagine how understanding the prosecutor’s officer would be if your average citizen walked away from a rollover crash because he was never told to remain at the scene. No, that person would already be handcuffed and sitting in the back of a patrol car preventing him from walking away. Or tackled and beaten if even attempting to walk away.
Ankora County Sheriff James Stuart admits mistakes were made but ensures that “supplemental training” will be made available to deputies which is the usual canned response from law enforcement who never stop bragging about how well-trained they are.
O’Hara, who was hired in 1998, five years after he was convicted for DWI, was demoted to deputy and now makes $83,000 working courtroom security. He is also required to wear a bodycam at all times as part of his punishment. The two deputies who allowed him to walk away were suspended for one day without pay.
The rollover crash took place on August 31, 2018 after O’Hara and his wife left a bar where he was seen on surveillance video drinking a couple of beers and a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.
When Anoka County sheriff’s deputies arrived, he told them he had been cut off by another car, which made him drive into the ditch but a witness told police there was no other car, that O’Hara had been swerving repeatedly until he lost control of the car.
But deputies had already determined they were going to treat him differently, according to bodycam footage which recorded a deputy offering to give him a ride home. O’Hara is then seen casually walking away from the crash while on the phone, stepping over a median and disappearing into the darkness.
It was only then that Anoka County deputies called the Minnesota State Police to investigate. And it didn’t take long for state troopers to realize deputies were trying to protect their colleague.
For the next seven hours, state troopers would try to track down O’Hara in three different counties, including going to his home and asking his son if he is there.
“Maybe, maybe not,” the son responded but did not allow them into the home without a warrant.
Surveillance video then later shows him arriving at the hospital where his wife has been transported. He is sitting in the waiting room when a state trooper calls him to inform him they need to talk which is when O’Hara is seen walking out of the hospital, only to return 90 minutes later.
By then, he had sobered up.