Police Reports Obtained in Lisa Staples DUI Incident

Although it was 2008 when off-duty Champaign police detective Lisa Staples was caught driving drunk in an unmarked squad car, only recently were police reports describing the incident obtained. Many were outraged when Staples was given a lighter punishment than other DUI cases in Champaign County. But the public was kept from knowing the extent of her intoxication or the embarrassing details of her arrest. This case and others have led to a campaign for more harsh drug and alcohol testing for Champaign police officers.

In March 2009, I sent a FOIA request for police reports on the Staples case to the Illinois State Police. Notorious for their denials of public information, the state police summarily denied my request. After new FOIA legislation took effect in Illinois on January 1, 2010, I re-submitted my request. Now forced to obey the law, the state police handed over their records.

According to a report written by Illinois State Police Sergeant B.K. Ingram, he responded to a call at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 30, 2008. Several drivers had spotted a car going the wrong way, travelling westbound in eastbound traffic, on Interstate 72. It was a cold night, it was snowing, and there was ice on the road.

A Piatt County deputy had stopped the gray 2007 Nissan Altima, found out that it was owned by the Champaign Police Department, and the driver was Lisa Staples, an off-duty police officer. The Illinois State Police were called for assistance. When Sergeant Ingram arrived, he approached the car and asked Staples to open the locked door. When Staples opened the door, Ingram says he, “immediately smelled an overwhelming odor of alcoholic liquor coming from inside the Nissan.”

Asked to exit the car, Staples got out and stood up, “fumbling forward.” She did not know where she was. She was dressed in a long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, and fuzzy pink house slippers. According to Ingram, “It appeared Staples had urinated in her pants as the crotch of her jeans was soaking wet.” When Ingram said that it looked like she had wet her pants, Staples replied, “I probably did. I’m sorry.” Ingram writes in his report, “I observed the front of her jeans was completely unfastened and slightly pulled down, exposing her panties. I brought Staples’ attention to this and asked her to fasten her pants.” 

Staples was also rambling incoherently. When Ingram asked where her driver’s license was, she said, “Um, I’m sorry. It’s probably on my person which is not on my person, which is correct.” She was eventually given a ticket for not carrying a driver’s licence.

Staples refused to take a field sobriety test or a breath test and was immediately placed under arrest. Ingram states that he put her in handcuffs and before putting her into the squad car, “placed several layers of paper towel on the passenger seat.” At the Champaign County jail, Ingram read Staples her Miranda rights. She began laughing and joked that she was waiving her rights, “as she waved her raised arms side to side.”

Other reports filled out by Ingram noted that Staples was “swaying,” “staggering,” and “stumbling.” Although she told other police she only had “three drinks,” she had admitted to Ingram that she was “fucked up.”

Although being issued a DUI while driving a department vehicle was grounds for termination, Staples was placed on administrative leave with pay while an internal investigation was conducted. Because of her working relationship with the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office, the case was assigned to special prosecutor Tony Lee, a former State’s Attorney in Ford County. Unlike Champaign County where first-time DUI offenders lose their license, in Ford County offenders are often only sentenced to court supervision. Staples’ attorney Ed Piraino and Tony Lee worked out a deal where Staples only got supervision.

At a hearing on December 18 before Judge Richard Klaus, Piraino and Lee both agreed that this arrangement would allow Staples to keep her job as a police officer. As Piraino said, “If she can’t drive, she can’t be a police officer.” Judge Klaus accepted the deal and Staples pleaded guilty to misdemeanour driving under the influence. She was allowed to keep her driver’s license and therefore remain on the force. Her punishment was 18 months of court supervision, 250 hours of public service, a $750 fine, and she was required to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet. As part of her public service, she was allowed to give lectures to high school students about the dangers of drunk driving. If these terms were completed, the case could be expunged, and she would have a clean record.

After six months, a petition to revoke her court supervision was filed when Staples tampered with her alcohol-monitoring bracelet and it was inoperable 24 hours, but she miraculously got another break and it was dropped.

On December 19, the very day after the plea deal was accepted, Elizabeth Drewes was driving drunk going the wrong direction on Insterstate 72, struck a minivan, and killed bride-to-be Brittany Babb. The parallels between this tragic story and the Staples case could not be ignored by the public. Dozens of letters to the editor poured into the News-Gazette complaining about the “sweatheart deal” given to Staples. Local defence attorneys who deal with DUI cases protested the unequal treatment.

On January 7, 2009, Lisa Staples handed in her resignation letter to the Champaign Police Department, surely the result of public pressure. Police Chief R.T. Finney told the News-Gazette it was her decision, “Lisa was a very good detective and employee. That’s what makes it so tough.”  

Many studies have shown that the rate of alcoholism among police officers is higher than the general public. There is an irony to this as police are required to arrest drunk drivers, conduct sweeps at local bars for underage drinking, and hand out tickets for public drunkenness. Indeed, many of the offenders police deal with on a daily basis are under the influence of alcohol. Moreover, police are called on to prosecute a “War on Drugs” which has sent hundreds of thousands of citizens to prison for drug charges.

In addition to the Staples case, there have been other indications of alcoholism among local police. On New Year’s night 2001, University of Illinois police officer Collin Jay Harmon killed himself while drinking beers with fellow officers and playing a game of Russian Roulette. In 2008, another UIPD officer, Curtis Bolding, resigned after choking his wife and threatening to kill her while he was in a drunken fit.  

Recently, there have been a number of high-profile cases in Chicago of off-duty police officers who were caught on video beating up citizens while drunk. Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate was fired after beating up a female bartender, video of which can be seen on YouTube. As a result of these cases, Chicago City Council ratified new changes to the police union contract requiring that lieutenants and captains undergo more stringent drug and alcohol testing.

Locally, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice is circulating a similar proposal to the upcoming negotiations of the Champaign police union contract. Among the changes is a requirement for mandatory drug and alcohol testing when a police officer is directly involved in an incident which results in death or great bodily harm or if the officer has fired his or her weapon. A campaign for this and other revisions to the police union contract comes in the wake of the death of Kiwane Carrington at the hands of a Champaign police officer.

Good story

Nice work, Brian. 

 

Greg Springer

excellent

Thanks for staying on this case, Brian.  Your hard work is helping expose the contradictions within Champaign-Urbana, and the real need to monitor the local police / State's Attorney. 

BD - surprisingly even keeled

BD - surprisingly even keeled for you.  Good job.

No sense in beating a dead

No sense in beating a dead horse huh.

 

This is what?    16 months old?

New Information to Some

It's not beating a dead horse if there's new traffic on this site, reading about this important display of police contradiction for the first time.

Who did the contradicting?

Who did the contradicting?  CPD?  Wasnt their arrest.  ISP?  They MADE the arrest.  S/A   She handed it off to a special prosecutor.  Who needs to be blamed?  Klaus?  Who?

Hydra-headed system

Many heads of the same dragon.

Some of this information was never reported.

This is the first time I've heard about Staples being accused of tampering with her ankle bracelet and coming close to getting her probation revoked. I think that its relevent that a former officer is still getting preferential treatment within the system even after she has resigned from the force. Plus, if a substance abuse evaluation had suggested that Staples had a problem with alcohol addiction that could have an impact on her job performance and public safety. If what happened with Staples was standard for most first time offenders in Champaign county I don't think anyone would have batted an eye.

There are recovering alcoholics and addicts who do work in law enforcement, medicine, education, and in other areas of public interest and, as long as they stay clean and sober, are capable of doing well in all of those areas. However, these professions are also notorious for remaining silent and it can come at the expense of public safety. This is why it's critical to be able to give people an opportunity to get help and offer support for individuals who are in high stress professions. By that same token, I don't support incarceration for non-violent drug offenses and I feel that the money spent keeping someone in the criminal system would be better utilized on education, treatment, support, and access to proper mental health care.

Marti W. wrote:> By that same

Marti W. wrote:> By that same token, I don't support incarceration for non-violent drug offenses and I feel that the money spent keeping someone in the criminal system would be better utilized on education, treatment, support, and access to proper mental health care.

I agree that the proper thing would have involved the officer attending the educational seminars on the drunk driving. She should have entered a treatment system and gotten counseling. None of these things happened either. In fact, she was supposedly counseling young people on the hazards when she herself had ignored what she already "knew". She was going the wrong way on a highway. She was lucky she did not kill people. 

-karen medina

 

Equitable Justice for All

This person needed help before she hurt someone. I think it's important that she get it.

On the other hand, I also know about the heartless brand of justice that is meted out in Champaign County for most people.

I don't think it does anyone much good to lock up the ex-officer if she gets the help she needs. I also don't think it does much good to come down so hard on many other people in comparison to the way this was dealt with.

I think mercy and grace are family values, too, and they are in pretty short supply at the courthouse -- unless you come in in uniform. I'd like to think that something could be done to put more mercy and grace into the courthouse for everyone.

I agree with Anon 12:23

I think we need to be critical of a system that lets officers off easy, while throwing the book at individuals who may not share the same advantages. By that same token I think there needs to be compassionate justice for everyone regardless of their professional or personal background. In the case of Elizabeth Drewes when she was busted for driving the wrong way and killed someone that was the second DUI she incurred within two months. In 2008 according to the circuit clerk database she had several moving violations, including the two DUIs, and she may have well needed some help or intervention long before she ended up killing someone. What is tragic is this situation could have been prevented and it wasn't.

 

I submitted the Anon comment at 6:39

As it turns out I wasn't signed into my account, but I do think that it would be helpful to look at the circuit clerk records online.

That Wasn't Right

I support compassion, not stupidity. Too much of that on both sides of the bar IMO. I was listening to my scanner the day that happened and it should not have. The police were actively looking for her, then the next thing you know that happens. If someone is stupid enough to try to commit suicide inside a 3-ton truck and manage to hurt anyone else, well they deserve to have the book thrown at them.

I also think that a smart justice system concentrates on those who are truly a threat to others. In Champaign County -- Illinois in general -- much of what is there is because of politicians running for office on one plank, "get tough," with every person they can throw the book at to generate statistics and revenue. It's proven to be a poor investment in our security as a society, as well as a very unwise social investment. Prisons and jail breed crime. Budgets devoted to that instead of education fail us as a society, as does the lack of jobs that pay a living wage.

We can't afford to throw the book at everyone some politician ran against in the last 40 years. There isn't the money to do it by locking up everyone and it serves no purpose. Status offenses, such as failure to comply with the often onerous, multudinous, and detailed requirements of sentences meted out fail to better those who really need it and waste precious resources. It would be better to give every person that needs a job, a JOB (or the resources they need to sustain themselves if that isn't going to work), rather than simply "making it a requirement of probation" or some such nonsense. Get a clue, people might just have failed at that before. Jailing them if that's why they're in your court is ridiculous. Essentially that's what the "compassionate consevatives" are arguing on a certain site, in a string of comments that stuns the soul and the brain in the depths of its depravity. It's a good thing some people have other people they can feel superior to.

We need justice here folks, not kneejerk Illinois-politico-speak.

Those ankle braclets are

Those ankle braclets are super expensive.  Anyone consider maybe she could not afford it...given that she had no job and all.

super expensive ankle bracelet monitoring alcohol

I am confused by the anonymous post about the ankle bracelet being expensive and "she had no job".

I think the braceleted person does not pay for the bracelet, but I could be wrong.

If the person does pay for it, why would she destroy it then?

She was on paid leave. She wasn't working, but she was getting paid.

-karen medina

 

the shooting and why they did not test the officers for alcohol

Related to this story by way of the use of alcohol and drugs by police officers, it still bothers me that the officers involved in the shooting of the teen in 2009 were not ever tested for alcohol or drugs. 

If any other person had a gun that went off, the holder of the gun would have been immediately tested for alcohol and drugs.

-karen medina

I Believe You Pay

Like most things in the "justice" system, the offender is usually hit on to pay. In this case, at least she had some resources. In many cases, they spend a lot of time trying to squeeze these funds out of people who can't afford it.

The Ankle Bracelet Is The Answer Here

All cops need to wear an ankle bracelet as part of the uniform. If the cop is found to be drunk off the job, the ankle bracelet needs to be work 24/7. What we don't need is drunk cops thinking they can arrest citizens for being drunk.

www.bigbaldwin.blogspot.com

All cops need to wear an

All cops need to wear an ankle bracelet as part of the uniform. If the cop is found to be drunk off the job, the ankle bracelet needs to be work 24/7. What we don't need is drunk cops thinking they can arrest citizens for being drunk.

www.bigbaldwin.blogspot.com

 

Might want to check Illinois Law and show me where its illegal to be drunk in public.

 

Ill wait while you find the statute.

If You Parse Those Words

I believe s/he was referring to being drunk on the job, which might or might not include being drunk in public, whether or not it is illegal in Illinois to be drunk in public.

Heck, for all I know, the way Illinois government, maybe all public officials including cops are supposed to be drunk in public, just try to keep it on the right side of the centerline?

We'll wait while you decide what your point is.

Uh read that persons blog

Uh read that persons blog again..... it said "drunk off the job"   that is NOT illegal in the State of Illinois.

She was not being paid, she

She was not being paid, she had resigned about 6 months prior.  And from the files of for what it is worth, I have heard that the bracelets are like $30 a day!!!  Not exactly cheap even if you have a job, which she did not.

Uggh

Champaign police are SCUM

Where are the checks and balances?

Lisa Staples - KARMA IS A BITCH

Some feel that she got what was coming. The rudeness of this bitch and the way she treated other came back to bite her in the ass (and piss on herself).

Amen - I have never met a

Amen - I have never met a more self-centered rude uncaring person.

Lisa again

This lady just hit my sister.  She ran her off the road at 90 MPH and caused my sisters jeep to flip 4 times.  ETM's said that my sister would have been dead if she was in any other type of car. F her.

Drunk Again

Last night December 20, 2010  Staples hit a a car with two teenage girls. We are fortunate that they were not serious hurt but the jeep they were riding in flipped 4 times. Stapes was driving 80-90 miles an hour while under the influence and struck the girls car.  They let her go in the morning with $ 100 dollars and her drivers license confiscated. When is she going to be stopped? When she kills your loved one. Enough already. 

photos of car smashed by Staples

Photos of the car driven by Kelsey Rose which flipped four times after being hit by a drunken Lisa Staples can be viewed here:

http://stoplisa.blogspot.com/

BD

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