Piqua, OH — Body camera video was released this week showing the extraordinary privilege granted to police officers when they commit crimes that would get the average citizen beaten, tasered, or even killed. A Piqua police department cop crashed his cruiser, while heavily intoxicated, pulled his gun, refused to obey commands, and was told he could simply "go home."
On October 27, Officer Justin Augustine drove his police cruiser into a semi-trailer. As the body camera shows, he was clearly drunk out of his mind when he self-reported the crash into the flat-bed trailer hauling a concrete barrier used to separate lanes during road construction.
After Augustine had been taken back to the police station, another officer told the supervisor investigating that he felt the supervisor "needed to go on station to deal with Officer Augustine as he appeared to be impaired and was demonstrating odd behavior, to include hugging and kissing him and other officers and telling them that he loved them," the report read.
As the Piqua Daily Call reports:
According to Piqua police reports about the incident, Augustine reported the private property crash, telling his supervisor Lt. Rick Byron of the Piqua Police Department that he was trying to urinate near the southeast corner of the building.
Lt. Byron observed “significant damage to the entire passenger side” of Augustine’s patrol vehicle, beginning at the front windshield and ending on the rear quarter panel. The windshield and both passenger side door windows were broken, according to police reports.
When Lt. Byron asked Augustine what happened, Augustine reportedly said again that he was trying to urinate. Augustine said that he was driving 20 mph during the incident. Augustine would also occasionally yell obscenities while he was being questioned.
An officer observed that Augustine’s eyes “were bloodshot and red and that his speech was slow and slurred,” according to police reports. A Four Loko Gold 14 percent alcohol per volume malt beverage can was later located in the driver’s door of Augustine’s personal vehicle. An empty can of the same beverage was also found near the crash scene.
The Piqua Police Department attempted to have Augustine go to the Upper Valley Medical Center to undergo a drug and alcohol screen due to being in an accident with a city-owned vehicle, but he refused. Augustine reportedly admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the day, but he refused all OVI tests and was placed under an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
As the body camera footage shows, Augustine was entirely uncooperative and at one point, he held his pistol in his hand. Had an average citizen done the same thing, rest assured that they would've been killed on the spot.
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"I'm done," Augustine told Lt. Byron as he received his blue privilege. "I can drive fine," he said as he refused to obey the officer's commands.
“I might as well be dead,” said the drunk cop. Byron described Augustine as “totally insubordinate” in his report, yet he treated him as if he were his best friend. Byron also noted that Augustine was not wearing his bulletproof vest, saying, that Augustine “drove for an hour without a vest.”
Instead of being arrested and hauled off to jail, Augustine was simply cited for driving drunk, allowed to go home, and placed on paid vacation—blue privilege indeed.
Lt. Byron gave his fellow cop so much leeway that he even considered letting the drunken "Augie" drive home—after he just drove his police cruiser into a semi-trailer.
On Wednesday, Augustine pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated, in spite of admitting to drinking and having a .14 BAC.