Dashcam video of former Richland mayor’s DUI arrest shown at court hearing
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — The former Richland mayor Bob Thompson is facing a DUI charge after being arrested in June 2019. In a recent hearing, dashcam video from Washington State Patrol was shown.
The trooper who pulled over and arrested Thompson testified on Tuesday during a suppression hearing. This type of hearing means certain evidence could be excluded during a trial and the hearing is meant to determine if it can be used.
Thompson was pulled over in Kennewick in June 2019. The trooper said Thompson sped by him at 42 mph in a 30 mph zone. The trooper testified at the hearing that Thompson didn’t stay in his lane twice. After Thompson was pulled over, the trooper had reason to believe alcohol may be involved.
“At what point in time did you detect the odor of alcohol,” asked Jeremy Burke, the Yakima County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.
The trooper said, “at the driver’s door.”
Thompson was soon arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
During the hearing, many issues were brought up such as Yakima County prosecuting the case and how the arrest was made. Benton County handed over the case to the Yakima County Prosecutor’s Office. A Yakima County judge was also brought in. They will continue to prosecute the case.
The defense will also be allowed to bring in their own blood expert surrounding Thompson’s results, which the prosecution argued. However, the judge ruled in the defense’s favor. Thompson opted for a blood-draw rather than an impairment test at the scene.
In court, Thompson’s attorney, Kevin Holt, said his client had a medical procedure done the day before and Thompson was dehydrated. He added that Thompson went over to someone’s home for a BBQ and fell asleep. There was allegedly a glass of lemonade with vodka in it that was left by the pool.
Holt said Thompson drank the lemonade, allegedly not knowing alcohol was in it. Thompson then stated he had three cocktails at the BBQ.
The hearing then came down to the arrest, and if it was made unlawfully.
“You at that point were making a demand for him and you were going to require — you were not going to leave until he stepped out of the vehicle?” Holt asked the trooper during questioning.
Burke objected to the question stating the trooper answered it after he was asked previously.
During the hearing, dashcam video from the trooper’s car recorded Thompson’s car driving and the interaction between the trooper and Thompson. It also showed the arrest of Thompson, which is what was being argued in court.
“Mr. Thompson never agreed to get out of his car until he was placed under arrest, did he?” Holt asked the trooper. The trooper replied, “He stepped out on his own accord. I did not tell him or place hands on him under arrest at all.”
Holt said, “You were making demanding statements to him that he had to step out of the vehicle.”
In the video and laid out in the transcripts, Thompson told the trooper “I don’t know why I’m stepping out of the vehicle.” This was after the trooper was heard asking Thompson to get out of the car and he wasn’t under arrest at that time.
When Thompson was out of the car, the trooper said Thompson balanced himself on the car. Thompson told the trooper he wouldn’t do a field sobriety test after the trooper asked if he was willing to. The trooper said Thompson’s eyes were bloodshot, according to his report.
When asked if the trooper felt intimidated by Thompson telling him he was an attorney, he said yes.
Thompson also took the stand after the trooper.
After the hearing, the judge denied the motion to dismiss the case based on the arrest. The judge ruled that the trooper had probable cause to arrest Thompson. The now-councilmember is due back in court next month.
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