CLAYTON — Five St. Louis County police officers arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last year have now been cleared of those charges, or pleaded to lesser offenses.
A judge ordered on Thursday the reinstatement of Detective Katherine Simmons’ driving privileges. Her DWI charge was amended to a ticket, and the charge was removed from her record.
Simmons, who drove her car off a road in Creve Coeur, was the last of the five cases to be resolved. Only one of them resulted in a conviction for driving drunk — and that was reduced to a misdemeanor. Three of the officers saw their charges amended to lesser offenses. And one saw all of the charges disappear.
St. Louis County police Chief Jon Belmar said the DWI arrests, all in just five months, were “troubling.” But they’re also rare. The force has 935 officers on its roster. Department spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Granda said he is unaware of any DWI arrests involving county officers since the string of them last year.
All five of the officers were off duty. Two remain on the force, including Simmons. One resigned and two were fired.
Attorney Travis Noble, who represented four of the officers, said his clients got the same deal most first-time DWI offenders get.
“These cases are not outliers,” he said. “People come in and pay me crazy amounts of money to make these arguments.”
But one of his clients, former county Officer Anthony Jones, pointed out that beating such charges takes know-how, and money.
“I think this happens all the time,” Jones said. “But if you don’t have the resources, the chances of you being acquitted and fighting for yourself are almost impossible.”
Here is an update on of each of the cases:
Feb. 4, 2018: St. Louis police officers arrest Jones at about 2:50 a.m. after they say he drove his 2018 Dodge Charger the wrong way down Cottage Avenue in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood, didn’t stop when they tried to pull him over, and sped away.
Police said as Jones tried to turn, his car struck a utility pole at East Prairie and St. Louis avenues. He then refused to “comply with the officers’ orders” and had to be subdued with a Taser before he was arrested. Police said they found a gun.
A breath test showed Jones’ blood alcohol content at 0.084%, just over the legal limit to drive in Missouri of 0.08%. He was fired not long afterwards, Noble said.
Jones said he was not drunk at the time of his arrest. He said he drank one Long Island iced tea not long before the crash, that his duty weapon was inside a locked glove box, and that the officers assaulted him unprovoked.
“The idea that suddenly one night I went rogue and started fighting with the cops is ridiculous,” he said.
Last week, prosecutors dropped armed criminal action and resisting arrest charges. The DWI charge was amended to careless and imprudent driving, to which Jones pleaded guilty. The crime will be wiped from Jones’ record if he successfully completes two years of probation.
Jones said he now plans to go to law school.
March 17, 2018: A Missouri Highway Patrol trooper arrests St. Louis County police Officer Henry Griese, 26, for DWI, shortly after 2 a.m. in Arnold, Griese’s second DWI arrest within a year. He was suspended with pay the next day, but resigned a few days later. He had been with the department since March 2014.
Griese pleaded guilty in June to operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner and was ordered to pay an $800 fine.
March 22, 2018: O’Fallon, Illinois, police arrest St. Louis County police Officer Martin Gulley, 25. He was charged with DUI, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and improperly passing an emergency vehicle. He had been with the St. Louis County police for less than a year, and was fired as a result of the allegations.
In January, the improper passing of an emergency vehicle and driving while uninsured charges were dismissed. Gulley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI before Judge Janet Hormberg.
He was given two years of probation, a $2,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and ordered to undergo alcohol treatment, according to court documents. If he completes his probation successfully, the DUI charge will be wiped off of his record.
April 14, 2018: A Creve Coeur police officer arrests Simmons, then 33, on suspicion of DWI after she drove a car off the road and struck a street sign and a tree at about 1:30 a.m. in a residential area along Olive Boulevard near North Mosley Road.
The nine-year police veteran was initially suspended with pay, but was reassigned within the department while her case was pending in Creve Coeur municipal court.
Judge Virginia Lay ordered Thursday that the revocation of Simmons’ driver’s license be removed from her court record, and that her driving privileges be reinstated.
She remains employed by the department.
July 20, 2018: A federal park ranger arrests St. Louis County police Officer Aaron McClintock, then 25, on suspicion of DWI in Shannon County in southern Missouri. McClintock, who had been with the department for two years, was suspended with pay.
In October 2018, Judge Sandra West ruled that there were inconsistencies in the police report and that McClintock asked for 20 minutes to call an attorney “and was not given the opportunity to do so.”
She ordered the Department of Revenue to remove any reference to the suspension of McClintock’s license that followed his arrest.
He remains employed with the county police.