An Arizona police officer pulled over a drunk driver who turned out to be a cop and went through with the arrest anyway.
Not that Mesa Police Lieutenant Rick Van Galder didn’t try to use his badge to talk his way out of the arrest.
But the Gilbert police officers refused to give Van Galder the Blue Courtesy that he expected. At least at first.
As a result, Van Galder became belligerent and condescending. A man with a whopping .306 blood alcohol content. Almost four times the legal limit of .08.
Not just Extreme DUI, which in Arizona, comes with harsher penalties than just a DUI, but Super Extreme DUI, which comes with even harsher penalties.
And that’s considering his blood was drawn more than 45 minutes after the stop because Van Galder, like most cops who get pulled over for drunk driving, refused to do field sobriety tests.
The story comes to us from 12 News, who did a thorough job of investigative reporting, obtaining body cam footage from the February 2016 incident, even driving to Van Galder’s home to attempt to interview him, only for him to threaten to call Gilbert police on them.
“Gilbert police did the right thing and didn’t cave into pressure,” the reporter says in the news segment.
Body cam footage shows Van Galder trying to talk his way out of the arrest, telling the Gilbert cops that he’s been on the force for 20 years, asking them to let him walk home, even though he lives five miles away.
Once they placed the cuffs behind his back, he became angry that they did not cuff him in the front. He even mentions his Blue Line tattoo on his arm, asking the cops to lift up his sleeve to view it to prove he was a member of the same gang.
However, Gilbert police did release him to a relative 90 minutes after his arrest after he agreed to a blood test, which certainly seems like Blue Privilege, but maybe they release all their DUI suspects in time to make last call.
And even after he pleaded guilty to Super Extreme DUI, which comes with a mandatory 45-day sentence, he ended up serving only three days in jail.
That’s because the 45-day sentence was reduced to 14 days, which only three of those days required to be served in jail and the remaining 11 days to be served on house arrest. He was also placed in a segregated cell and his sentence was schedule to not interfere with his job – except that is not an issue considering he is on paid leave raking his $90,0000-a-year salary while siting at home.
But let’s read the Super Extreme DUI statute, which is defined as anyone having a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher.
A person who is convicted of a violation of subsection A, paragraph 2 of this section shall be sentenced to serve not less than forty-five consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence unless the entire sentence is served.
For a regular DUI conviction, there is a minimum jail term of 1 day. For an extreme DUI (BAC result of .150 and below a .200) conviction, there is a minimum jail term of 30 days. For an Arizona Super Extreme DUI, the minimum jail term is 45 days.
Because Van Galder was never booked in the Maricopa County jail, which is operated by Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is notorious for forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, he ended up facing Gilbert Judge John Hudson, who ensured the cop would not serve the mandatory 45 days in jail by allowing him to serve three days in a Scottsdale jail.
So in the end, no matter how much 12 News praised the arresting officers, he was granted Blue Privilege by the judge, who saved him from the pink underwear.
The news report mentions that Van Galder is the first high-ranking Mesa police officer to be arrested for DUI in five years, which probably means he is the first high-ranking Mesa police officer to not receive Blue Courtesy at the time of his arrest.