CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Monday, May 4, 2009

Probation for ex-cop

Probation for ex-cop - May 2, 2009

HACKENSACK, NJ — A retired New York City police officer was sentenced to four years' probation Friday for driving into a car full of teenagers while he was drunk and carrying an unlicensed handgun. However, the Superior Court judge in Hackensack, in a separate set of rulings on lesser police summonses, said he did not think there was enough evidence to say Santos Tirado, of Monroe, N.Y., was intoxicated. As a result, while upholding the jury's conviction, he did not impose some of the attendant penalties that go with a drunken driving conviction. The watery eyes and slurred speech reported by Fair Lawn police the night of the Oct. 26, 2007, accident could also have been caused by a head injury, Judge Eugene H. Austin said in court. "I've struggled with this case since we finished and got the jury verdict," Austin said. "I have gone over it and over it and over it in my mind. It's a very difficult decision to make under all the circumstances."

A jury found Tirado guilty in March of two counts each of assault by auto causing bodily injury, drunken driving and refusing to submit to a breath test. He was also found to be guilty of unlawfully possessing a Browning .380-caliber handgun without a New Jersey permit and possessing hollow-nosed bullets, which are illegal in New Jersey. The teenagers from Lodi, Garfield, Hackensack and Elmwood Park were leaving a church function when Tirado drove his Honda Civic through a red light and hit their Audi A4 as it was crossing Broadway on 32nd Street in Fair Lawn. The teenagers had passed Tirado's car before they turned right, into a jughandle, to cross Broadway. They testified that he was hunched over his steering wheel and did not have his headlights on when they passed him. Deanna Bruno of Lodi, who was riding in the middle of the back seat, suffered a broken pelvis and tailbone in the accident.

Bruno, who was 14 at the time, was forced to repeat her freshman year of high school because she missed so much school after the accident. She has been told that she may have trouble with natural childbirth, her family said. They said probation was not a strong enough punishment. "This has been about someone who lacked character and hid behind a badge," her father, Peter Bruno, said in his pre-sentencing statement. "We want justice, your honor, not a slap on the wrist." The case pitted the Fair Lawn police officers who responded at the scene against their counterparts from Tirado's former department in New York City's 30th Precinct, who described Tirado as an outstanding police officer who would never put another person at risk. The Fair Lawn officers, several of whom testified in court, said Tirado smelled of alcohol and had an empty Coors Light can in his car. They said he was belligerent when they attempted to arrest him for carrying the handgun without a permit required in New Jersey. He also asked them to give him special treatment because he was a fellow officer, they said. Tirado refused to take blood and breath tests to measure his blood-alcohol level after the accident.

"It puts a police officer in an awkward position between the brotherhood of law enforcement and the truly victimized," said Fair Lawn Detective Sgt. Michael Uttel. "We did everything according to the letter of the law that night. The laws are definitely not in favor of the victim." Five retired and active New York City police officers defended Tirado at the sentencing. "He approaches legendary in my profession in New York City," former co-worker Kieran Breen said. "He taught me, if you drop a prisoner off to central booking, and he doesn't shake your hand, chances are you did something wrong." Tirado's family said he missed a turn while driving back to their upstate New York home after spending the day in Manhattan. He was tired from taking his wife to the airport early that morning and having trouble seeing because it was raining, they said. They contend he refused the alcohol screening because the Fair Lawn police hit and kicked him when they pulled him from his car. They also said he always carried the gun. "They don't know my father," Tirado's daughter Jessica Acosta said. "If they knew my father, they would have never dragged him through this." In addition to his probation, Tirado must pay more than $5,000 in fines and restitution. His driver's license will be suspended in New Jersey for a year. E-mail:

No comments: