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Saturday, May 23, 2009

[IN] South Bend Police Sgt. Eric Downey contesting the wife-battery and dui charges against him

A VETERAN CITY POLICE OFFICER WAS ARRESTED WEDNESDAY AT HIS HOME, ACCUSED OF DRUNKEN DRIVING AND DOMESTIC BATTERY... IT WAS THE FOURTH CALL FROM SGT. ERIC DOWNEY’S HOME IN THE PAST 13 MONTHS... MRS. DOWNEY TOLD OFFICERS HE PINNED HER ON THE BED, THEN HELD HER DOWN IN A CHAIR — BEFORE SHE STARTED TO FIGHT BACK. BUT SGT. DOWNEY TOLD OFFICERS A VERBAL ARGUMENT ESCALATED TO HIS WIFE HITTING AND CHOKING HIM FIRST... DOWNEY'S NEXT COURT DATE IS MAY 26...

UPDATE: SOUTH BEND OFFICER DOWNEY ARRESTED, ACCUSED OF BATTERY ON WIFE
Police had been called to home three times before
South Bend Tribune
By Dave Stephens dstephens@sbtinfo.com
May 20. 2009 6:49PM
[Excerpts] A veteran city police officer was arrested Wednesday at his home, accused of drunken driving and domestic battery. According to police records, it was the fourth call from Sgt. Eric Downey’s home in the past 13 months. Police arrested Downey, a 20-year veteran and an afternoon shift patrol supervisor, at his home on the city’s south side, after his wife called police with a battery complaint... The exact details of the complaint were not released, but it alleges that Downey battered his wife. As officers interviewed her, Downey reportedly arrived at home, driving his own vehicle. Officers reported they talked with Downey, who appeared to be intoxicated. A later test at the St. Joseph County Jail revealed a .09 percent blood-alcohol level. Police booked Downey into the jail, accused of domestic battery and driving under the influence. A $500 bond was set for Downey on Wednesday afternoon, and he is scheduled to appear in court Friday... Trent said police were aware of the previous calls involving Downey but that without charges being filed or allegations being substantiated, there’s little the department can do that wouldn’t have violated his rights.... [Full article here]
Video:


POLICE CALLED TO OFFICER'S HOME 3 TIMES PRIOR TO ARREST
WSBT
By Kelli Cheatham (kcheatham@wsbt.com)
Story Created: May 20, 2009 at 6:06 PM EDT
Story Updated: May 20, 2009 at 11:07 PM EDT
[Excerpts] ..."The officers at the scene had reason to believe there had been a domestic violence incident, an actual physical confrontation," said Capt. Phil Trent, public information officer for the South Bend Police Department... Downey's wife called police around midnight. An officer was at the house around 2 a.m. investigating when Downey pulled up. Another officer smelled alcohol on his breath and arrested him. A breath test showed Downey's blood alcohol content was at 0.09. The legal limit is 0.08. According to police records, Downey's wife called the front desk at the police department, not 911. On Sunday May 17, Downey's wife told police her husband threatened to hurt her animals. She called right back and told them to disregard the call. In December, Downey's wife told police her husband assaulted her. Police sent that case to the Family Violence Unit. In April, 2008, a third-party caller told police Downey's wife was having problems with the off-duty officer... [Full article here]

OFFICER DISPUTES ARREST, RECORD
Downey says other officers watched him drink beers before blood-alcohol test.
South Bend Tribune
By DAVE STEPHENS
May 21, 2009
[Excerpts] A police officer accused of domestic battery and driving under the influence on Wednesday contests both claims, saying he drank two beers as police interviewed him in his yard. Sgt. Eric Downey, a 20-year member of the force, said Thursday that he has filed a complaint with the department because of his arrest... Downey, an afternoon shift supervisor, told The Tribune that although he did have a few drinks before driving home early Wednesday morning, he wasn’t intoxicated. Instead, he said, he drank two beers as he stood in the yard talking with police... Downey also downplayed the allegation that he battered his wife, saying that he believes an investigation will show he is innocent. “I would never hit a woman,” Downey said, “but I would hit a guy”... Downey said he was arrested after he got into an argument with another officer, Lt. Dave Newton. Downey said he asked Newton to leave his property and was arrested for the DUI only after Newton allegedly offered to fight him... Downey said his dislike for Newton, in part, stems from an earlier allegation of domestic battery made by Downey’s wife. On Dec. 11, 2008, police were called to Downey’s home after his wife called and reported a verbal and physical fight. Newton was one of the police officers who responded to the call and filed a police report of the incident. Newton’s police report contends that both Downey and his wife were in a verbal fight that then became physical... Downey said the case was investigated by the Indiana State Police and that, after two months, he was allowed to return to work because the allegations were determined to be unfounded... Although he doesn’t know the exact details of his wife’s most recent allegations, Downey said he’s sure the Indiana State Police investigation will exonerate him. Downey contends his wife’s allegations stem from problems in their marriage, problems that she, a former police department employee, tries to fix by calling his employer. “I do love my wife,” Downey said, “and I wouldn’t hurt her. She just thinks she’s justified calling police when there’s a problem.” [Full article here]

COP DENIES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, BATTERY ACCUSATIONS; FORMAL CHARGES FILED
by Kelli Cheatham (kcheatham@wsbt.com)
wsbt
Story Created: May 22, 2009 at 4:01 PM EDT
Story Updated: May 22, 2009 at 5:28 PM EDT
[Excerpts] A South Bend police officer is telling his side of the story after he was arrested for battering his wife and driving drunk. Sgt. Eric Downey says he did nothing wrong... “[I] came home with a six-pack, knowing I was going to be home,” he told WSBT. “I was going to drink it, or some of it, then go to bed... If a policeman is going to give [a] person a DUI, the last thing a policeman needs to do is stand there and let them drink until they are over the legal limit.” Instead, Downey claims that's exactly what officers did just before they arrested him... In response to a question about why his wife would have called police making those allegations three other times in the past 13 months, Downey replied “She’s not making ‘all these’ allegations. I don’t know what she's saying because I haven't discussed that with her.” When asked if she’s ever hit him, Downey said, “I’m not going to get into that, please. I love my wife, OK?” In a police report from a December 11 call to Downey’s home, Mrs. Downey told officers he pinned her on the bed, then held her down in a chair — before she started to fight back. But Sgt. Downey told officers a verbal argument escalated to his wife hitting and choking him first. Downey told WSBT he doesn’t think he’s a bad guy or a bad cop. “I think every marriage has problems,” he said. “I think this is a new marriage, we're still working through it.” The St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office filed formal charges against Downey Friday afternoon. He’s being charged with one count of domestic battery and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The probable cause documents say Downey grabbed his wife’s wrists so hard he caused injury and pain. Downey is on paid administrative leave from the department... Downey has already filed a formal complaint against all officers on the call for excessive force and false arrest. He says he filed an additional complaint against Newton for intimidation and provocation... [Full article here]
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