Video Saves Man from False DUI Charges that Deputy Admitted to Fabricating
A Louisiana sheriff found no criminal activity related to a deputy who fabricated facts on a police report to arrest a man for DUI two years ago.
St. Tammany Parish sheriff's deputy Bryan "Ricky" Steinert admitted to cutting and pasting the facts from a previous arrest report to arrest a man named Ryan Held.
And he would have gotten away with it had it not been for Ryan Held's friend who video recorded the traffic stop, showing Held flawlessly passing a field sobriety test.
But Steinert claimed Held was unable to walk a straight line nor keep his balance when he was told to raise one foot, which was why he had to charge Held.
And despite admitting to fabricating a report, which is against the law, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith allowed Steinert to resign on May 11, 2017.
Less than a month later, he was hired by the Red River Parish Sheriff's Office, only to get fired in March 2018 after reports of his fabricated arrest surfaced, according to the Advocate.
"I've never in my career had any write up or any disciplinary actions," Steinert had claimed in his job application to become a Red River Parish sheriff's deputy.
Steinert's downfall began the night he pulled Heyd over on January 16, 2016.
According to WWLTV.com:
“On January 16, 2016, Steinert pulled over Ryan Heyd, 32, for careless operation of his vehicle in Slidell. Steinert’s report claims he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Heyd’s breath, so he performed a field sobriety test... The video shows the off-duty Louisiana National Guard soldier walking heel to toe, arms at his sides, without bobbling. But Steinert’s report paints a much different picture, one where Heyd supposedly stepped offline multiple times, using outstretched arms to regain his balance, wobbling again when he attempted the one-leg stand.”
The video along with the fabricated report prompted District Attorney Warren Montgomery to drop the DUI charges against Heyd.
It also led to an internal investigation within the department where Steinert admitted to fabricating the narrative in his report.
But the sheriff found that his actions were not criminal and closed the investigation, allowing the deputy to resign in 2017.
“We would have to look at it as a criminal matter to decide whether we were going to pursue charges or let another agency look at it so there's no conflict,” but Smith said that has not been done in the Steinert case,
“I didn't see it as a criminal act. I'm the hiring and firing authority as the sheriff. I make those decisions to whether we open up an internal investigation.”
The IA report ends by saying, "This case is considered closed."
The district attorney has identified at least two dozen other cases that are now in jeopardy because of Steinert’s actions. Montgomery has since recused his office from the case and has forwarded the results of the investigation to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office for review.
Heyd has filed a federal lawsuit over his arrest claiming his civil rights were violated. Read more about that here.
Steinert's aggressive and unlawful approach to law enforcement not only earned him a Deputy of the Year award in 2016, he was also featured on A&E reality TV show “Live PD” that same year.