South St. Louis police arrested a bar owner after they drove their police cruiser into the front of Bar: PM in Carondelet. The officers on the scene didn’t apologize to James Pence or Chad Wick, the married owners of the bar. Instead, they handcuffed James Pence for yelling at them and then arrested Wick after the officers realized that Wick was filming them. Wick was charged with felony assault, but the charges were reduced to misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest. Wick had initially been denied bail by Judge Rochelle M. Woodiest, but was released the next day on December 20, 2023.
Police claim that Wick has shoved them, but the officers are clearly untrustworthy. The officers initially claimed they had swerved far to the left to avoid a dog and then changed their story and said they needed to avoid a parked car. However, Wick’s attorneys have released a video showing that there was neither a dog nor a car obstructing the police cruiser. Instead, the video shows the police vehicle driving straight in an empty street and then suddenly swerving far to the left and crashing into the bar.
Thus far, the police department has not released any video footage of the incident nor have they disclosed whether the officers underwent an alcohol test.
The Officers Grossly Escalated the Situation
If the officers involved had shown any empathy or restraint, they could have handled the situation much better. The City would still have to pay a sizeable sum to repair the bar, but it would have merely been deemed an accident.
Instead, the officers added numerous potential causes of action to a potential civil suit. The officers, and the City that employed the officers and charged Wick, are potentially liable for assault, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and destruction of property. The officers could also be liable for discrimination/hate crime, since the bar is an LGBTQ bar. The officers’ behavior was so defensive and deliberate, that they open themselves and the City to punitive damages.
The incident has sparked debate about qualified immunity, but no immunity should be applicable for cases like this. Government immunity is for situations where officers must make a decision to protect citizens. Here, the officers were far from saving a life. Indeed, they were lucky that no one was on the sidewalk or in the front of the building went their cruiser plowed into the bar otherwise their liability would have been even greater.
Should I Hire a Lawyer If I am Arrested for a DUI?
If you have been arrested for driving drunk, the first step that you should take is to contact a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can inform you about your rights, any defenses that are available to your case, and the possible penalties that you may face if convicted.
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