Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cop Fired In DWI Cover-Up

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz fired one of his officers Friday for her role in trying to cover up an alcohol-related crash involving a fellow cop.
Sara Harris, 23, a 21/2-year member of the department, has 10 days to appeal the firing.
"We are sending a very clear and strong message to the department and to the community that we hold people accountable," Schultz said. "The facts of the case are at a level where termination is the only option."
Contacted Friday, Harris referred questions to her attorney, who was out of town. Harris said she had yet to discuss with her lawyer whether she will appeal the termination. She said she learned she lost her job through news reports Friday.
An internal investigation found that Harris was in uniform working an overtime shift at a Northeast Heights bar on March 9 when she left her post to pick up officer Brandon Wilcox, 25, who is accused of wrecking his squad car while intoxicated.
Harris took Wilcox home, and moments later, Wilcox's 19-year-old brother, Bryan, showed up at the crash site in the 5500 block of Comanche NE. The younger Wilcox sat in the driver's seat, called police and waited at the scene, court records state.
When officers arrived, he told them he had stolen his brother's police car to pull a prank on some friends.
Meanwhile, Harris went back to her post working security.
Eventually, Bryan Wilcox admitted that he wasn't driving and directed officers to his brother's home nearby, records state.
There, officers found Brandon Wilcox, whose blood-alcohol content was tested at 0.20.
Investigators learned Harris might be involved after another officer came forward, Schultz said.
At the time of the crash, Harris was working chief's overtime, a program in which businesses can hire officers to work security.
On Thursday, Brandon Wilcox, who was arrested on aggravated DWI charges, resigned from the department.
Had Wilcox not resigned, Schultz said, Wilcox would have been terminated.

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