Fired Aspen cop was driving a patrol vehicle while intoxicated, records show
ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen police officer fired for alleged on-duty intoxication had been driving a patrol vehicle the morning he was arrested, according to records released Monday.
That detail and other specifics of the arrest of 18-year Aspen Police Department veteran Jim Crowley are outlined in the report, which was issued 10 days after Crowley’s Aug. 29 termination by Police Chief Richard Pryor.
Pryor has stood behind his decision, made one day after Crowley was charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol. Pryor has maintained that he terminated Crowley because he was not fit for duty on the morning of Aug. 28, and posed a safety threat because of his condition.
Crowley, 42, has not spoken publicly about the matter. However, his legal consultant, Lawson Wills, has maintained that nobody saw Crowley driving a vehicle and that Crowley’s alleged conduct did not meet the standard for job termination. Wills, a Glenwood Springs attorney and a friend of Crowley’s, also has insisted that Crowley was hung over ” not drunk ” when he came to work.
Wills would not comment for this story when contacted yesterday.
In the meantime, Snowmass Police Chief Art Smythe explained that the report took 10 days to complete because of the time it took to gather evidence demonstrating Crowley was driving a police vehicle. Wills has argued that there’s no proof Crowley was behind the wheel of a vehicle of any type.
In the report, Snowmass police Sgt. Brian Olson states that on Sept. 3 he made a request to the APD records department for audio recordings of Crowley’s exchange with police dispatch on Aug. 28. Olson received the recordings, which showed that Crowley had radioed in for duty at 7:33 a.m. on the morning in question, and at 7:54 a.m. communicated that he was “mobile,” meaning he was behind the wheel of a police car.
Minutes later Crowley, whom Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn had earlier suspected of having alcohol on his breath, was asked to return to the police department and consent to a portable breath test (PBT), which showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.105, Olson’s report says. While not admissible as evidence in court, a PBT can give officers probable cause to investigate further.
Crowley was taken home, and at approximately 9 a.m. Linn called Olson, who arrived at Crowley’s house at 9:22 a.m., the report says. Sgt. Dan Davis of the APD met Olson in front of Crowley’s house, according to the report.
“I knocked on Crowley’s residence and he opened the door and invited me in,” the report says. “Crowley agreed to allow Davis to enter also. I asked Crowley how he was doing. I observed Crowley had blood shot eyes.
“I asked Crowley if he had drank any alcohol or used any drugs since returning home. Crowley denied drinking any alcohol or taking any drugs since returning home. I told Crowley I was there to investigate him driving while under the influence of alcohol and possessing a firearm while intoxicated while at work this morning. I asked Crowley if he would be willing to perform any roadside maneuvers, explaining that they were completely voluntary and not required. Crowley declined to volunteer to perform any maneuvers. Crowley was polite and cooperative.”
Olson initially cited Crowley for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and possessing a firearm while under the influence. Crowley was placed in handcuffs and transported to Pitkin County Jail where he agreed to submit to a Breathalyzer test, which showed his blood-alcohol level to be 0.063. That level is below the 0.08 threshold for a DUI charge, but above the 0.05 level for a DWAI.
The Breathalyzer result was completed at 10:54 a.m., exactly three hours after Aspen police learned that Crowley was allegedly behind the wheel of a Volvo patrol vehicle.
Pryor could not be reached for comment yesterday, but APD community relations specialist Stephanie Dasaro said Crowley got behind of the wheel of a patrol car after he had met with Linn and Davis to report for duty. Suspicious that Crowley was intoxicated, Linn met with Davis after Crowley left the briefing.
“During the time they conferred that’s when officer Crowley called mobile on the radio,” Dasaro said. “At that point they got on the radio and called him back to the office and that’s when they spoke to [Linn’s] concerns and asked him to take the PBT.
“When they got the PBT, at that point they escorted him home.”
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