Police bodycam video raises new questions about DUI arrest of Allen West's wife
Video shows Angela West did not sway during field sobriety test, took a breathalyzer omitted from police reports. Charges were dropped when no alcohol was found in her blood.
Body cam footage shows Dallas police asked Texas GOP chairman Allen West's wife Angela to move her car with a 3-month old baby inside during a traffic stop last summer, a request experts say directly undercuts the officers' claims they suspected she was driving drunk.
The video, obtained by Just the News under an open records request, also shows officers administered Angela West a breathalyzer and expressed surprise it did not show her above the legal limit, but then omitted the existence of that test from the official police report they filed before all charges were dropped by prosecutors.
After reviewing the two hours of footage, former Commissioner of the New York Police Department Bernard Kerik said the video unearthed by Just the News raises troubling questions about whether Angela West's arrest last August was warranted.
"The whole thing stinks of harassment or abuse of power," said Kerik, normally an ardent supporter of law enforcement.
When Mrs. West "initially pulled over on the side of the road, the officer told her to go ahead and move her car again," Kerik said on the "Just the News, Not Noise" TV show Monday night. "If the officer actually thought she had been drinking, and was impaired not to drive her car, she wouldn't have told her to go around the corner and park somewhere else."
The video shows the arresting officers asked about Angela West's weight and physical condition, noted she did not sway during a field sobriety test, and did not give her a Miranda warning before arresting her.
Kerik noted that West "obviously had not been drinking, and from what I saw, other than being nervous, she did fine in the sobriety test."
Dallas Police Department officials are defending the arrest, even though all charges were dismissed, saying the officers did not mention the breathalyzer test in their reports because Mrs. West did not initially perform it correctly and a blood test was subsequently administered.
They also said officers did not give a Miranda warning but did give a statutory warning after she was arrested.
"Since [West] was offered a Breathalyzer test but was unable to register a reading do [sic] to not blowing property [sic], the results would not have any bearing on the arrest," the department said in a statement. "Based on this, the officer did not include in the arrest report, but instead provide [sic] a detailed breakdown of each sobriety test given."
On Sept. 1 last year, Allen West released a statement through his gubernatorial campaign. "I stand by my assertion that a full apology to my wife Angela is warranted," he said. "As well, the full unedited body cam video should be released by the Dallas PD Chief Garcia to the press and the public. My wife's honor and reputation should have never been assailed."
"The whole matter was unconscionable," the recently defeated candidate told Just the News, as it was "a violation of my wife's constitutional rights" as well as "endangerment and abandonment of my grandson."
Lt. Col. West, a former member of Congress and Texas GOP chairman, added that he believes his "family is warranted an apology from the Dallas Police Department and anyone else involved, including the arresting officer."
He told "Just the News, Not Noise" TV show cohosts John Solomon and Amanda Head on Monday night that he knew the officer involved in his wife's arrest was "part of a DUI task force that receives state government financing."
"[A]nytime that you're getting financing from the government, you have a quota to make," he said. "And I think that this is an example of people having to go out there and meet a quota in order to sustain their viability, and of course, the funds that they're receiving. But they should not be abusing taxpayer funds like this."
Lt. Col. West later added, "There should always be consequences or ramifications for improper procedures and not abiding by the rule of law, even from law enforcement officers."
"I don't think there's a bigger pro-law enforcement executive than me," former NYPD Commissioner Kerik told Just the News, "but when I look at that tape, I see harassment, abuse of power, and I don't see a justification for a driving under the influence arrest. Unless there's something out there not shown on tape, I don't get it."
Mrs. West gave a clear explanation as to why she swerved on the road, and there was "no reason not to believe her," he added.
Kerik implied that the half hour it took to arrest West for DWI was longer than normal, as he said that an officer knows within 5-10 minutes if someone doesn't have the mental or physical capacity to operate a vehicle because they're under the influence.
"I think it was atrocious, the way it was handled," he said.
Kerik said the Dallas Police Department "is very well respected" and he has "an enormous amount of respect for them and what they've gone through the last several years, but this raises serious questions about what they did to affect this arrest."