Last Thanksgiving I saw the broken glass and swept up evidence of a fatal crash only a few blocks from my house. Two young men were killed at a T-intersection on Damen Ave., at Hamlin Park, in front of the softball fields I walk the dog around.
An off-duty police officer, John Ardelean, crashed into two young (Hispanic) men from Cicero around bar close.
In February of 2008, Judge Donald Panarese dropped the charges for lack of probable cause. At that time, he said that “assumptions” were ruling the day, not facts, and the prosecutors hadn’t made their case.
Some of the facts that are known are this. The police officer was given 6-8 hours to sober up before he took a breathalyzer…on which he still blew a .032. There is a video tape showing Ofc. Ardelean drink five shots of booze and three beers in under two hours and only minutes before the crash. Also he appears to leave the bar with bottle of beer in his hand.
Now, witnesses at the bar said two things. Ofc. Ardelean did not appear to be, act or look drunk. Also, some of the shots were water. Really? He was pounding back shots of water with his buddies?
This case is simple. A Chicago Police officer was given the biggest break of his life by his own comrades. He was allowed to sober up for 6 hours prior to taking a Breathalyzer, essentially destroying evidence by letting his body process the alcohol that would have proven he was driving drunk.
Well, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office got an earful and has decided to reinstate charges against Ofc. Ardelean. They claim that a new video, showing a longer sequence of time where Ofc. Ardelean is drinking means they have a better case. It should be noted that the judge in the preliminary hearing saw no videotape of Ofc. Ardelean drinking at all.
Ofc. Ardelean, from a defense counsel’s perspective, has a good case. Apparently numerous witnesses to back up that he was either pretending to drink, not acting drunk and did not appear intoxicated. He followed the first two rules of a DUI stop, in that he refused a field sobriety test and, technically, a Breathalyzer, although, what he really got was UNBELIEVABLE preferential treatment.
This case may have reasonable doubt written all over it. But there’s also two dead young men, a damning video tape. Ofc. Ardelean should be thinking more along the lines of Anthony Abbate rather than R. Kelly.