DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver police officer has pleaded guilty to a DUI charge for a bizarre drunk-driving accident in which he claimed the actual driver of his car was a mystery man named “Good buddy.”
CBS4 obtained records and documents on the DUI case against officer Aaron Egger, who was given a 16-day suspension by the Denver Police Department earlier this year. Denver Police Commander Matt Murray told CBS4 although the accident occurred last July, and Eggers was sentenced in November, the department had to wait until this year, after the criminal case was resolved, before it could impose departmental discipline. Egger is now serving in an administrative desk position, according to Murray.
According to a Thornton police report, Egger crashed his car near 120th Avenue and Holly Street in the early morning hours of July 4. There were no injuries. But when Thornton police officer Sean Cuney arrived, he asked Egger what had happened.
“Someone hit us,” the off-duty Denver cop responded.
Asked who was in the car, Egger replied, “Me and a buddy.” Egger said his buddy “took off.”
Cuney asked Egger where he was coming from. “From a buddy’s house” was Egger’s response.
When Cuney asked Egger for his license, “Aaron began digging through his wallet and handed me a Visa card,” Cuney wrote.
According to the police report, Egger insisted he had not been driving at the time of the accident. “I asked Aaron if he let his buddy drive his car. He must be a good buddy. Aaron said, ‘Yes.’ I asked Aaron what his good buddy’s name was. Aaron said, ‘Good buddy.’ ”
Thornton police said that throughout the encounter, the Denver officer was acting “strange.”
After failing a series of roadside maneuvers, Thornton police told Egger he would have to take a blood test or breath test to determine his level of intoxication.
“I asked Aaron which test he wanted to do. Aaron said he would do a blood test or a breath test. I told Aaron I could not pick for him and he needed to choose the test. Aaron said, ‘Whichever is easiest,’ ” according to the officer’s written report.
Ultimately, Egger took a breath test, registering an intoxication level of .201, more than twice the limit for DUI driving. Egger later pleaded guilty to DUI and was given one-year probation, 48 hours of public service, 10 days of electronic monitoring and he was ordered to undergo alcohol evaluation and treatment.
DPD spokesman Murray said, as part of his penalty, Egger is also prohibited for two years from driving any car not equipped with an “interlock” device, an ignition device installed on vehicles that require a breath sample before the engine will start. If the device detects an elevated alcohol concentration level, the interlock device stops the vehicle from starting.
Murray said this case and this issue are “of concern” to Denver Police Chief Robert White, since DPD vehicles are not equipped with interlock devices, so Egger can’t drive any department vehicles for two years.
“How does it impact the department going forward?” Murray said. He said White was concerned taxpayers are footing the bill for two full years for a cop who is precluded from driving. Murray said the Egger case will likely lead to some sort of DPD policy change on how to deal with officers in similar situations.
CBS4 attempted to contact Egger, but his phone number had been changed. A message was left with his attorney, Charles Fife.