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Police lieutenant asks for 'professional courtesy,' beats DUI charge

Police lieutenant asks for 'professional courtesy,' beats DUI charge
Posted at 10:52 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 00:05:48-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- At half-past midnight on September 27, 2019, a Goochland Sheriff's deputy pulled over an SUV for speeding on West Broad Street near Route 288.

Goochland Deputy Terry Russell's body-worn camera captured his conversation with the driver.

"You were going 65. That's 20 miles per hour over the speed limit," Deputy Russell said.

Russell would soon learn the driver he pulled over was a fellow member of law enforcement.

"Where are you coming from?" Russell asked.

"I work at the police department. I was hanging out with a friend of mine tonight for his birthday," the driver, Henrico Police Lieutenant Russell Hockaday, responded. "I've had a couple of beers, I'm OK."

"Would you be willing to do a breathalyzer?" Russell asked.

"No sir, I would not," Hockaday, who was off duty at the time, replied.

"[You're] putting me in a tough spot man," Russell said. "Only thing is I can smell the alcohol coming out of here, and you're going 20 miles over the speed limit. That's the tough spot I am out in."

The body camera footage captured that night then showed Russell ask Hockaday if he wanted to do a field sobriety test.

"I'd rather just drive home to my wife and my kids," Hockaday responded.

"I've got to figure out where you are, man, before I can send you off," Russell replied. "I understand what you're saying, and I'm trying to work with you, but the fact that you're going 20 over the speed limit, and I smell alcohol coming out of the car."

A Professional Courtesy

Hockaday then made a request.

"Sir, if there is any way you could give me a professional courtesy?" Hockaday asked.

"I'm trying to," Russell replied.

"If you need me to, I will call a ride," Hockaday offered.

"I can do a field sobriety test, otherwise you've got to call a ride," Russell responded.

"Let me just call a ride and then we don't have to go through all that, because I don't want to put you in that position," Hockaday said.

"You already put me in the position," Russell responded.

Deputy Russell then turned off his body camera to call his supervisor.

The Goochland Sheriff's Office said that is the protocol anytime another member of law enforcement is pulled over.

But, Russell would forget to turn it back on until the final field sobriety test: the nine-step heel to toe walking test.

As you can see, Hockaday stumbled on the fourth step, and the first step after his turn.

"To me, that indicated some degree of impairment," Goochland Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Caudill said.

Caudill is a former police officer. He decided to move forward with the case against Hockaday.

"The evidence supported the charge and we let the judge decide," Caudill added.

The evidence included bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, and Hockaday's eventual admission to having five beers since 7:30 p.m., according to the prosecutor.

Top DUI Officer

Plus, Caudill said he trusted Deputy Russell's judgment.

Russell is considered one of Central Virginia's top DUI officers. He received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving law enforcement award in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

"He is experienced, he's professional, and his credibility is above reproach," Caudill said about Russell.

"Do you think it's appropriate for somebody who works in law enforcement to ask another member of law enforcement for a professional courtesy?" CBS 6 Problem Solvers Investigator Melissa Hipolit asked Caudill.

"That's a tough one," he replied. "I hate to use the cliche, 'it doesn't hurt to ask,' but it's a personal thing that somebody does that, I'm not going to take a position either way on that. Would I do it, no?".

Russell arrested Hockaday around 1:17 a.m.

Working the System?

Shortly after the arrest, Hockaday said he had chest pains.

The deputy, following protocol, took Hockaday to the fire station.

From there, a rescue crew took Hockaday to the hospital.

Hockaday requested to go to Henrico Doctor's Hospital, according to the Goochland Sheriff's Office, which was 30 minutes away from the fire station in Goochland.

After being checked out by hospital staff, Deputy Russell told Hockaday he wanted to give him a blood alcohol test because the breath test was not available at the hospital. He said he felt a blood test would be more accurate.

Hockaday refused and said he did not like needles.

He said he wanted to take the breath test.

No breath test was conducted and Russell charged Hockaday with refusing to take a blood test.

"Do you think this is an example of somebody who works within the system, who knows how it works, using that knowledge to get out of something?" Hipolit asked Caudill.

"Does it happen, yes. Did it happen in this case? I'm not going to speculate," Caudill replied. "My job is to bring the case to trial and we did."

Conviction, then Appeal

In December, a district court judge found Hockaday guilty of DUI.

But his attorney, Craig Cooley, immediately appealed.

Eight months later, on August 4, before Goochland Circuit Court Judge Timothy Sanner, Cooley presented his defense.

He highlighted that Hockaday did not slur his speech that night, he was cooperative, the deputy did not observe any bad driving other than speeding, and the footwear Hockaday was wearing, Crocs, may have contributed to his stumbles.

Judge Sanner agreed with Cooley and said Hockaday looked "OK" to the court, and found him not guilty.

"He said while he found the officer's testimony to be credible, it did not support the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Caudill said.

Specifically, the judge cited the lack of a breath or blood alcohol test, and said Hockaday's driving was not problematic except for the speed.

Judge Sanner also said the Crocs Hockaday wore do not provide a lot of support for the foot, and Hockaday did a good job of catching himself during the missteps, which the judge said he did not think Hockaday could have done if he was impaired.

Caudill disagreed and stands behind his deputy's decision to make the arrest, regardless of the outcome.

"Whenever you bring a case that does not go as you anticipated, there is always some degree of disappointment. You always second guess what you could have done differently," Caudill said.

Hipolit spoke with Craig Cooley by phone and asked if his client had anything he wanted to say about the case.

Cooley said Hockaday requested that he refer Hipolit to some of the facts of the case that were raised in his defense.

Henrico Human Resources said in October 2019 that Hockaday had been re-assigned to an administrative assignment after his arrest and was later fully reinstated.

His last day at work was Friday, August 28, with his retirement being effective September 1.

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