A Texas Tech campus police officer has been placed on administrative leave following an incident where she is thought to have let an intoxicated driver go free. Around 4:50 am on August 1, the unnamed female officer stopped Michael Aaron Garcia for a traffic infraction. Garcia claims the officer told him he would not be charged with Texas DWI if he found a safe ride home. Garcia was taken home by his relatives. A little over an hour later the Lubbock Police Department responded to a scene where Garcia was threatening his relatives because they thought he was too intoxicated to drive. That incident lead Garcia to be charged with arson and assault.
Now University officials want to know about the initial traffic stop. It is unclear if Garcia was actually impaired at 4:50 am, though he did tell Lubbock officers about the offer from the campus cop. The initial reason for the traffic stop is not documented in computer records, nor is there a reference to Garcia driving while intoxicated. As Garcia is under 21-years of age, he was subject to arrest for any detectable presence of alcohol. Texas DWI law says it is the discretion of a law enforcement officer to make an arrest for drunk driving, and while the university policy mandates that officers follow state law, it does not specify specific action for suspected DWI traffic stops.
In a related issue, the investigation will try to determine why three outstanding misdemeanor warrants for Garcia’s arrest apparently did not appear in a routine check.
An administrative leave is not an indication of wrong-doing on the part of the Texas Tech officer. It is considered standard action at most law enforcement agencies while an investigation is being conducted.
As of August 10, Garcia remains jailed on $74,000 bond.
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