Twelve minutes after off-duty Chicago police officer John Ardelean left a bar on Thanksgiving Day 2007, the officer broadsided a car, killing two men on Chicago's Northwest side. A judge dismissed DUI charges against Ardelean because of insufficient evidence. Prosecutors declined to bring any additional charges against the officer who is still employed by the department.
The problem was that the officer would not submit to a sobriety test until 7 hours after the accident when a superior ordered him to do so. Even with the 7-hour delay, Ardelean produced a reading of half the legal limit. Experts witnesses estimated that Ardelean's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.
Now, a video from the bar where Ardelean was drinking has surfaced. It clearly shows Ardelean tossing back shot after shot and mixing-in other alcoholic beverages between shots. Ardelean makes the bizarre claim that he was doing shots of water. And the friendly bartender who did shots with Ardelean conveniently agrees. No mention in the stories I've seen of the fact that the bartender and the bar owner could face civil liability in the accident, unless of course, they were just doing shots of water.
What's got some people frosted is that the state's attorney had the video at the time of the trial but did not present it to the judge who dismissed the case for lack of evidence. Official spokesman for the state's attorney, Johnny Gorman, said that the tape was not presented at the trial because it "does not show any signs of drinking such as staggering or stumbling." You can watch the tape (below the fold) and see if it shows any signs of drinking.
The Cook County state's attorney's office announced that it has re-opened the Ardlean case after public airing of the video. "[First Ass't State's Att'y Bob Milan] had viewed previously an incomplete tape of the officer in the bar," said state's attorney spokesman John Gorman. "Earlier this week, a TV news station aired this tape that shows officer Ardelean having a drink poured down his throat by a female and grabbing a beer, apparently on the way out the door. These were two aspects that were not on the tape that Bob viewed."
Funny, because the tape that aired on TV news this week came from the attorney for the victims. He was given the video by the state's attorney's office.