DWI Race Card
Joe Mcgurk, N. Y. Post, Mar. 25
A judge on trial on drunken-driving charges asked the cop who was about to bust her if she had hit anything or hurt anyone — and then declared “if I was a white male, this wouldn’t be happening,” the officer told jurors yesterday.
Officer Jessica Sterling took the stand in Bronx Criminal Court at the trial of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills, who, cops said, ran a 1979 Rolls-Royce into two parked cars in Riverdale shortly before midnight July 22, 2002. Assistant District Attorney Shireen Plaseied asked Sterling to describe Mills just before the arrest. “She was incoherent and she didn’t know what was going on,” she testified.
Sterling said that before her arrest, Mills “asked me ‘Did I hit anything? Did I hurt anyone?’”
“Then she told me ‘You’re arresting me because I’m black. If I was a white male, this wouldn’t be happening,’” the cop said. The prosecutor asked the cop how the reply made her feel. “I’m a Hispanic woman and my partner is black,” Sterling said. “I couldn’t believe an educated woman would say something like that.”
The cop testified that while at the 50th Precinct, Mills was allowed to spend as much time as she wanted with her lawyer before going to central booking. After a few hours, she started to sober up, but still smelled of booze, the cop said. “There was no part in the evening when she didn’t smell like alcohol,” Sterling testified.
Defense lawyer Paul Gentile has insisted that his client was not drunk and sought to show that Sterling, who had graduated from the Police Academy about 14 months before the alleged incident, was inexperienced.
One of the two cars in the parking lot that the judge allegedly smacked into belonged to an officer at the nearby precinct station house, and under cross-examination, Sterling testified that someone went to get the cop, who came to look over his vehicle.
Gentile, a former Bronx district attorney, asked Sterling what the cop said. “He said she was boxed [drunk],” Sterling replied. “Then he went to get a supervisor. Obviously, he wanted her arrested.”
Sterling testified that she had no DWI training and had never made a DWI collar before. Gentile asked her why she was tapped to make the arrest. “The reason was it was ‘female and female,’ so I could search her,” she replied.
The judge’s alleged drinking partner is expected to testify tomorrow.