Former Utah trooper of the year out of work, facing allegations she made bogus DUI arrests

lajikal

Registered User
#1
Former Utah trooper of the year out of work, facing allegations she made bogus DUI arrests

By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, February 22,4:03 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — During her 10 years as a Utah state trooper, Lisa Steed built a reputation as an officer with a knack for nabbing drunken motorists in a state with a long tradition of teetotaling and some of the nation’s strictest liquor laws.
Steed used the uncanny talent — as one supervisor once described it — to garner hundreds of arrests, setting records, earning praise as a rising star and becoming the first woman to become trooper of the year.
Today, however, Steed is out of work, fired from the Utah Highway Patrol, and she — and her former superiors — are facing a lawsuit in which some of those she arrested allege she filed bogus DUI reports.
“If we don’t stand up to Lisa Steed or law enforcement, they just pull people over for whatever reason they want,” said attorney Michael Studebaker.
Steed declined to comment, but her attorney Greg Skordas said she denies the allegations. She is trying to get her job back.
The people snared by Steed say the arrests disrupted their lives and were costly to resolve.
Michael Choate, a now-retired aircraft logistics specialist at Hill Air Force Base, said he nearly lost his security clearance and job.
Steed stopped him because he was wearing a Halloween costume and booked him even though three breathalyzers tests showed no alcohol in his system. Choate said he spent $3,800 and had to take four days off of work to get his DUI charged dismissed.
The 49-page lawsuit includes two defendants, but Studebaker said dozens of others are lined up and willing to tell their stories. He said they are requesting the lawsuit be broadened into a class action lawsuit.
Every one of her DUI stops back to at least 2006 should be under suspicion, he said, adding that could be as many as 1,500 people.
The lawsuit, filed in December, also accuses the Utah Highway Patrol of ignoring Steed’s patterns of higher-than-normal DUI bookings and waited too long to take her off patrol. The agency declined to comment.
Steed joined the agency in 2002, and during her first five years, she earned a reputation as a hard-worker whose efficiency led to high arrest totals. By the time she ascended to trooper of the year in 2007, she was held up as one of the agency’s top stars.
In 2009, Steed became a member of the DUI squad. Her 400 DUI arrests that year were thought to be a state record, and more than double the number made by any other highway trooper. She earned special recognition at the state Capitol.
“With her training and experience, it’s second nature for her to find these people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” her DUI squad boss at the time, Lt. Steve Winward, told the Deseret News.
During a ride-along with the newspaper, Steed said it was simply a “numbers game,” noting that one in every 10 drivers stopped for a violation is driving impaired. “It’s a lot of hard work, but you make a ton of stops, and you’re going to run into them,” she said.
Steed’s career, however, turned. In 2012, while on the stand in a DUI court case, Steed acknowledged purposely leaving her microphone in her patrol car so that superiors wouldn’t know she was violating agency policy.
By April 2012, her credibility had come into question so much that a prosecutor said he would no longer prosecute DUIs if Steed’s testimony was the only evidence.
In October, the Salt Lake Tribune obtained a memo written in May 2010 in which Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Rob Nixon flagged Steed’s “pattern” of questionable DUI arrests. He wrote that the bulk of Steed’s arrestees had no signs of “impairing drugs” in their systems.
The memo said she based most of her arrests on signs of impairment such as dilated pupils and leg and body tremors.
Steed was taken off road patrol in April 2012 and fired in November. She was accused of violating department policies, falsifying police reports and using questionable practices when making DUI arrests.
The lawsuit is based on two defendants: Thomas Romero and Julie Tapia.
Romero was stopped after Steed said he was swerving, according to the lawsuit. After Romero said he wasn’t drinking, Steed gave him a roadside sobriety test anyway. She booked him for DUI even though his blood alcohol content was 0.00. Charges were dismissed.
Tapia went to pick up her ex-husband, who had been drinking. Steed approached Tapia as she got out of her car at her house, saying Tapia had been speeding, the lawsuit said. Steed said she could smell alcohol, and Tapia told her it was coming from her ex-husband.
Tapia was arrested for a DUI; her ex-husband for public intoxication. Tapia’s blood test showed no alcohol. Charges were dropped.
Choate, who hopes to join the lawsuit, said the entire agency should be held responsible for the damage Steed caused to him and others. “They let her get away with it for a long time,” he said.


Just another cop bashing story. Nothing to see here.
 

jules

uppity taxpayer
#2
i read this earlier. this is scary for me cause i drive for a living.
she arrested and booked alot of her people on who had 0.00 readings on their breathalyzers. even if i could get this thrown out of court, it would prob take a month or two id imagine, and not before spending a few thousand in attorney fees.
what a cunt, and im sure there are others that may not go to these extremes, but prob do some bending to get the dui's
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
Donator
#4
Always request a blood test if you know you're completely sober.

This is fucked up though and every arrest should be looked at again. It's better to have guilty people go free than to convict innocent ones.
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
#5
Dirty Harriet trying to be better then the boys. 400 DUI arrests in a year is a blatant sign that something is wrong. The fact that she was getting 0.00 on the breathalyzer and she still preceded to file charges is also a huge red flag. Her superiors should have jumped in the second she started losing DUI cases because of breathalyzer results. If I lose a DUI case, I have some serious explaining to do and it starts with video of the sobriety check, video of the breathalyzer at county and my paperwork.
 

Ballbuster1

In The Danger Zone...
Wackbag Staff
#6
Dirty Harriet trying to be better then the boys. 400 DUI arrests in a year is a blatant sign that something is wrong. The fact that she was getting 0.00 on the breathalyzer and she still preceded to file charges is also a huge red flag. Her superiors should have jumped in the second she started losing DUI cases because of breathalyzer results. If I lose a DUI case, I have some serious explaining to do and it starts with video of the sobriety check, video of the breathalyzer at county and my paperwork.
Seriously. Her superiors should be held accountable too.

There were plenty of red flags being thrown and they didn't react.
 

gleet

What's black and white and red all over?
#7
The odd thing was, she let this guy go.

 

Ego

The Only Thing Bigger Than My Head
#8
To be fair, that guy deserved to be let go.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
#9
Dirty Harriet trying to be better then the boys. 400 DUI arrests in a year is a blatant sign that something is wrong. The fact that she was getting 0.00 on the breathalyzer and she still preceded to file charges is also a huge red flag. Her superiors should have jumped in the second she started losing DUI cases because of breathalyzer results. If I lose a DUI case, I have some serious explaining to do and it starts with video of the sobriety check, video of the breathalyzer at county and my paperwork.
Be honest, for about 95% of your DUI's, you know you'll be taking them in before you even start the aerobic exercises.
 

icculus1284

Registered User
#10
When I got my DUI, I'm fairly certain I was only asked to do field sobriety tests for the officers' amusement. I knew I was headed to jail when I got pulled over.

Haven't driven intoxicated in 6 years because of it. Lesson learned. Cabs are well worth the fare when compared to the money I spent on all the bullshit I had to go through.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
#11
When I got my DUI, I'm fairly certain I was only asked to do field sobriety tests for the officers' amusement.

You were. The tightrope walking and alphabet reciting skills are only to allow the officers to observe you and make sure you don't throw up before they administer the breathalyzer. You can juggle chainsaws while reciting the cyrillic alphabet and they'll still give you the blow test and still haul your ass in for the .08 or above.
 

icculus1284

Registered User
#12
You were. The tightrope walking and alphabet reciting skills are only to allow the officers to observe you and make sure you don't throw up before they administer the breathalyzer. You can juggle chainsaws while reciting the cyrillic alphabet and they'll still give you the blow test and still haul your ass in for the .08 or above.
They didn't even have me blow in the breathalyzer until after they brought me in. It was a nice jail. Had my own cell, and Piggly Wiggly for breakfast and lunch. Didn't make me post bail, just promise to show up to court on the designated date. I couldn't leave until I blew 0.0 though.

The following day was probably one of the worst hangovers I'd ever had. And taking a shit on that little metal toilet/water fountain combo was a bit embarrassing.

I remember asking the cop if he had xm radio in his cruiser and told him all about O&A/R&F. He was a pretty cool officer.
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
#14
Be honest, for about 95% of your DUI's, you know you'll be taking them in before you even start the aerobic exercises.
I actually do more stops on sober people then drunk. Tired waitresses on their way home from work. A college kid that is driving back to school and the Red Bull has worn off. On occasion I get a Clark Griswald type taking his family to some tourist trap and he's decided to drive all night after losing an entire day for whatever reason. Those guys I bring back to my cruiser and chew out - wife and kids in the car, it 0400 and they are weaving allover the damn road to the point that truckers are sqwaking on their CB's and to dispatch that a car full of drunks is about to die.

You are partially right though. On a Friday/Saturday night around the times the bars closed - yeah, it's likely going to be a drunk. The percentages are in favor of it from midnight to 0300. I've read some estimates put it as high as 5/10 drivers are impaired during those hours around closing time. At the scene of an accident during those hours it's a gimme that alcohol is involved.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
#15
I worked freeway construction for a year. Most of the CHP's were on a first name basis with us. They rarely made traffic stops but always had to clean up the wrecks, and inevitably anyone who hits a k-rail or smashes into an arrow board and doesn't need to be hauled away on a backboard will be taken away in the back of a trooper's car.
 

Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
Donator
#16
Oddly the Pa State police have stopped using the Breathalizer for the time being........because they cannot verify it is calibrated correctly.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
#17
Oddly the Pa State police have stopped using the Breathalizer for the time being........because they cannot verify it is calibrated correctly.
I thought the field ones were later verified by a station one with a calibration certificate?
 

Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
Donator
#18
I thought the field ones were later verified by a station one with a calibration certificate?
not recently... they were still offline as of yesterday...where I work. Blood tests only
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
#19
They didn't even have me blow in the breathalyzer until after they brought me in. It was a nice jail. Had my own cell, and Piggly Wiggly for breakfast and lunch. Didn't make me post bail, just promise to show up to court on the designated date. I couldn't leave until I blew 0.0 though.

The following day was probably one of the worst hangovers I'd ever had. And taking a shit on that little metal toilet/water fountain combo was a bit embarrassing.

I remember asking the cop if he had xm radio in his cruiser and told him all about O&A/R&F. He was a pretty cool officer.
The field sobriety test is only to gather more evidence to show the court. I'm glad you only got the one DUI. I wish more people learned from their first time through the system. Bonus that you didn't kill somebody else or yourself to round off the whole thing. I'm no choir boy in this either. While I never got a DUI when I was young I drove drunk a few times. The final time I did it was when a city cop followed me for a couple blocks, then peeled off - likely to answer a call. I think I was about 10 seconds away from getting lit up and I had a 12 pack in me. Scared straight in that single second I realized I was the luckiest bastard in the world. I drove the last 5 blocks home on a side street and shut my headlights off when I got to my street and roared to my driveway. I was shaking when I got out of the car. I had just turned 18 and that shit would have stuck. It would have fucked up me going into the Air Force, getting my first real job and I likely would have ended up washing trucks for a living.
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
#20
not recently... they were still offline as of yesterday...where I work. Blood tests only
This is becoming the norm. Even rural departments are making the drive to the hospital for a blood draw. The machines are under constant attack by lawyers. Out of date calibrations, documented defects and other things come up in DUI court all the time.
 

Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
Donator
#21
This is becoming the norm. Even rural departments are making the drive to the hospital for a blood draw. The machines are under constant attack by lawyers. Out of date calibrations, documented defects and other things come up in DUI court all the time.
Recently a Judge threw them out of court in Pa. I forget the case...
The Officer that does all the PSA's and is the voice of the Pa State police..at least locally..was the partner of the officer that blew his brains out in the barracks parking lot about two years ago.
 
#22
This conversation is missing something.. breathalyzers.. if only we had someone with first hand knowledge to set us straight. There is an I told you so somewhere..

Hope he cleans up in the lawsuit.


Thing is we can arrest someone based on observation. Odor, bloodshot/watery eyes, slurrs. I've never been trained on a mobile breathalyzer or field tests.. Highway meets us at a designated precinct to do the machine on tape. Or burned to a disk now.

I've never had anyone not blow less than the limit. And a refusal is an automatic charge. In fact we can't put the charges in until after the test.

I always hated dui because you had to wait until they were sober to bring them to central booking. Fucking nightmares until they fall alseep and then wake in the morning apologizing for what you had to tell them they did.

Haven't made one in a while now.. don't miss them





As for this chick... how you're not embarrassed to have your arrests turn out to be bullshit is unbelievable to me. And get an award for it?
 
#24
Why isn't she being charged with a crime?
Like perjury?

I would guess because most of the arrest are based on her observations, or more specifically, her judgements. Prove I didn't smell what I said I smelled.. very hard to do if not impossible.
The memo said she based most of her arrests on signs of impairment such as dilated pupils and leg and body tremors

Though I would like to see the actual numbers. How many of the over 400 arrests led to nothing. And not just dismissed charges that could have been dismissed for any reason. I mean like tests that showed zero alcohol and such. This lawsuit is only based on 2 cases, but it says there are "dozens" in the wings. Anyone who sees this broads picture and was arrested by her is going to jump on that bandwagon.
 
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