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SLMPD records: Police officer accused of driving drunk at murder scene

In 2020, at least three SLMPD officers were accused of DUI. One has been charged; two are still city officers.

ST. LOUIS — The promise of the law in the United States is that it applies to everyone equally. When it comes to driving under the influence, public documents acquired by the I-Team suggest that may not always be the case for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

A decade of employee misconduct reports provided in response to Sunshine Law requests led the I-Team to discover how many officers have been accused of driving under the influence on or off the job, and the consequences they faced.

In a recent example, an SLMPD document alleges that an officer drove impaired all the way to a crime scene, where he was stopped by colleagues and determined to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .110.

That crime scene was the site of William 'Rainbow' Terney's death.

"Someone shot him six times, in the back of the head," said Roberta Flowers. "I'm the mother of his children. I want to know."

It happened on October 14, 2020, at the intersection of Southwest and McCausland. More than a year after his murder, nobody has been charged with his death.

RELATED: Driver fatally shot in the head in south St. Louis identified

An Employee Misconduct Report, provided to the I-Team in response to a Sunshine Law request, says then-SLMPD officer Joshua Morrison "drove a vehicle to a homicide scene. While at the scene, Police Officer Morrison, was acting erratically and his speech was slurred. As a result of his behavior, a Reasonable Suspicion Breath Test was administrated. Following the screening, it is alleged Officer Morrison had a positive BAC of .110."

That result puts the accused above the legal limit for all drivers in Missouri (.08), and more than five times the threshold (.02) where SLMPD policy requires action against an employee driving a work vehicle.

A spokesperson for the SLMPD wrote, "Any allegation of criminal misconduct by one of our employees would be investigated, both criminally and internally...We cannot comment specifically on internal discipline matters, but we can ensure you that these instances are taken very seriously and that discipline has been consistent throughout Chief Hayden’s tenure."

The department confirmed that Morrison left the department in October 2020. The spokesperson would not clarify whether he resigned or was terminated. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol the following month.

The I-Team's PJ Randhawa shared the report with Flowers.

"That's very disappointing. That is shocking to me. He shouldn't be working while he's drunk," she said.

Looking at ten years of Employee Misconduct Reports, the I-Team found 15 officers accused of a DUI. The I-Team could find charges against only six for driving under the influence.

Counts of the reports show that 2020 tied with 2015 for the most DUI accusations against officers in a decade. There were three allegations in each of those years.

Danielle Smith of the American Addiction Centers says drunk driving incidents affect police departments nationwide.

"It is, I imagine, especially challenging. To say, 'I'm not the one giving the help, I'm the one who needs the help,'" said Smith.

Research on Psychology Today estimates that one out of four police officers on the street has an alcohol or drug abuse issue.

"It's potentially taking their sharpness away, their ability to react as quickly or as rapidly as we would need them to react," said Smith.

Terney's family hopes the officer's behavior didn't compromise the case.

"The father of my children don't deserve all of this," said Flowers.

The I-Team asked SLMPD for an interview with Chief John Hayden to talk about the reports. An SLMPD spokesperson declined. We also attempted to contact Morrison and did not receive a response.

A similar request to St. Louis County Police in July asking for misconduct reports received a response only of a blank copy of the department's citizen complaint form and a guide to making complaints. The department failed to respond to a follow-up message explaining that the provided document was not what was requested.

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