Austin Police Commander arrested for DWI

The Austin American Statesman reported that an Austin police commander was arrested and charged with drunken driving Sunday night after he crashed his car into a ditch at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Cmdr. James O’Leary, 61, who supervises the department’s training division, was arrested about 8:30 p.m. Sunday and booked into the Travis County Jail about 90 minutes later, authorities said. He was released on bail Monday afternoon.

Assistant Police Chief David Carter said O’Leary has been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of the criminal and internal investigations into the accident. O’Leary could not be reached for comment Monday.

Airport spokeswoman Leslie Schneiweiss said O’Leary crashed his white 1995 Lincoln Town Car into a ditch near a parking lot on Presidential Boulevard.

The car sustained minimal damage, and O’Leary was not injured, she said.

According to the arrest affidavit, an airport police officer said O’Leary smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot, watery and glassy, his speech was mumbled and confused, and his balance was wobbling on the field sobriety tests.

Schneiweiss said airport police arrived a short time later and performed a field sobriety test on O’Leary. She would not say whether a blood alcohol test was performed.

O’Leary took two breath tests. On the first he blew 0.213. On the second — 0.212. Both are more than two times the legal limit of 0.08. I guess he forgot he could refuse the breath test.

“He cooperated 100 percent,” she said. “He never mentioned anything about his affiliation with APD. As far as our officers are concerned, it was a standard DWI arrest.”

O’Leary, a former Army lieutenant colonel and a Vietnam veteran, has been with the department for 25 years and also worked on the department’s crowd management team.

As you may remember, a federal jury ruled this year that he did not use excessive force when he used pepper spray during an anti-war demonstration on Congress Avenue the day after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

O’Leary is on paid restrictive duty until the investigation is complete. His future is uncertain.
APD has no set policy on what punishment officers accused of a crime will face. Each is dealt with on an individual basis.

In the past six years, eight Austin police officers have been arrested for DWI. Last year, of the 22 officers who faced some sort of discipline, one was for DWI, that officer was suspended for 42 days.

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