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Chicago officer cleared of drunken driving during visit  *

By Daphne Duret

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

STUART — Jurors on Tuesday exonerated a Chicago police officer accused of drunken driving while visiting family last year after he said deputies arrested him unfairly.

Martin County sheriff's deputies arrested Albert Medina, 42, an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, near Indian Street and Willoughby Boulevard early Nov. 8. At issue during the trial was whether deputies gave Medina a chance to take a field sobriety test before they placed him under arrest.

Deputy George Primm said he thought Medina looked impaired and had warned him not to drive when he saw him in a parking lot near Charlie's Bar & Grill, where Medina and a cousin had spent the evening. Primm told jurors he pulled Medina over when he saw him driving erratically a few minutes later and that Medina refused to take a field sobriety test and clenched his muscles when he tried to place him in handcuffs.

"He was in a position where he looked like he was going to start a fight," Primm told jurors.

Defense attorney Gerald Roden argued that Primm never gave Medina adequate opportunity to perform the test, and Medina himself testified that he tensed his muscles to avoid being slammed onto a squad car.

"If I didn't tense up, my face would have probably landed on the hood," Medina said.

Roden pointed to a videotape showing Medina's refusal to submit to a breath test after he was arrested as a sign that he was not intoxicated or belligerent with deputies.

In the end, jurors sided with Medina, acquitting him after nearly an hour of deliberations. Medina said his supervisors stripped him of his duties as a bike patrol officer in downtown Chicago after he notified them of his arrest, but he hopes Tuesday's acquittal will help him put the situation behind him.

"From the beginning, I felt that the arrest was unjustified," Medina said. "I'm relieved."

* Press Release from the Palm Beach Post, Treasure Coast Edition. Written and oral consent for use of article requested on behalf of Gerald T. Roden in June, 2006

 

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