SDPD cop allegedly blew .32 in DUI case, felony hit & run charge - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDPD cop allegedly blew .32 in DUI case, felony hit & run charges pending

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By Phil Blauer and David Gotfredson

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The driver who followed an off-duty San Diego police officer on the freeway and then witnessed an alleged hit and run crash is speaking out to News 8.

The witness asked to be identified only by his first name: David.

He said he noticed off-duty San Diego police officer David Hall changing lanes suddenly and driving erratically on southbound I-805 just before the Murray Ridge Rd. exit on the evening of Feb. 22.

"He kept going, violently changed lanes from the number five lane to the number four and almost hit somebody, then back the other way. That's when I grabbed my cell phone speakerphone and called 911," David said.

The witness said he followed Officer Hall as he exited the freeway and crossed over the Murray Ridge Rd. bridge.

According to the witness, the 41-year-old officer was driving a brown SUV and stopped in a left-hand turn lane. A woman driving a silver Mustang was headed south when the officer turned left in front of her.

The Mustang broadsided the back of the officer's SUV, spinning his vehicle around. Officer Hall got out of his vehicle and spoke to the woman in the Mustang, who complained of head and neck pain. Then a few minutes later, he got back in his SUV, drove over the sidewalk, and left the scene of the accident, getting back on northbound I-805.

"This is stuff you see on TV. People don't really leave accidents, do they?" witness David said.

After calling 911, the witness said he gave police the license plate number of the SUV Officer Hall was driving.

Police traced the license plate number and found Officer Hall at his home in Linda Vista. A San Diego police sergeant on the scene decided not arrest Hall, even though Hall failed a breathalyzer test.

Instead, Officer Hall was advised that he would be receiving a letter in the mail notifying him of potential criminal charges.

Felony DUI and hit & run charges are now pending against Officer Hall, according to the defense attorney representing the traffic cop.

"(Officer Hall) has been on the job for 14 years. He has an unblemished record, no disciplinary history, no anything. He's a good cop," defense attorney Cole Casey said.

Casey said he has just received the police report on the incident and some of the evidence will be challenged. News 8 has learned Officer Hall's blood alcohol level is alleged to have been .32 -- exactly four times the legal limit.

"Certainly if that's a true blood alcohol number and the results are competent results, yeah, that can create some challenges in defending it. But the first inquiry is, are those valid results?" Casey said.

The attorney said Officer Hall was once DUI Enforcement Officer of the Year with SDPD and he is fully cooperating with the incident investigation.

"He's understandably upset, understandably shaken by it. We're dealing with a good police officer who had a lot on the line here," Casey said. "He's not looking to run from this or anything else. He just wants to have his day in court and address the charges appropriately."

As far as what punishment Officer Hall should get if he's convicted, the accident's main witness has some thoughts of his own.

"If the rules say, you get a felony DUI and you cannot be an officer then under that guideline maybe you can't have your job anymore," witness David said. "But I don't think having a DUI necessarily means you're a bad police officer. Maybe he's a great police officer."

Attorney Casey told News 8 that he expects Officer Hall will be arraigned on felony charges in early May.

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