Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey officer charged with DUI

NEW PORT RICHEY — Police Officer Christopher Sutherlin worked crowd control Monday night at a political rally for Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden in Sims Park. He went off duty about 9 p.m.

Hours later, authorities say, the 30-year-old officer rear-ended a pickup on U.S. 19 and sped away. The pickup's driver followed and caught up to him. And when the Florida Highway Patrol investigated, it determined the officer was driving drunk.

Sutherlin, who lives in Dade City, was charged with DUI, two counts of DUI with personal injury, DUI with property damage and leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted, Lt. Scott Baker said. Sutherlin has been with New Port Richey about 10 months and is under the department's one-year probation.

The crash occurred on U.S. 19 north of Beau Lane, about a half-mile north of Main Street, just after 3 a.m. Tuesday, FHP said.

Sutherlin was driving a 2006 Nissan pickup when he struck a 2005 Ford pickup, according to the report. Sutherlin was speeding 20 miles over the posted limit, FHP said.

He took off, the report said, and the driver of the second pickup, 26-year-old Joshua Vitori of New Port Richey, followed until Sutherlin was forced to pull over because of front-end damage to his pickup.

Baker said the troopers who arrived first knew Sutherlin from working in the same area. He said FHP sent a trooper from Hernando County who didn't know the officer.

"We just felt it was better that there wasn't any kind of friendship or relationship," Baker said.

Sutherlin told the trooper he couldn't perform field sobriety exercises because of a previous back injury. At the Hernando County jail he took a Breathalyzer test, which registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.148 and 0.151, the report says. Florida law presumes a driver impaired at 0.08.

He was jailed in Land O'Lakes until Tuesday afternoon, when he posted $6,000 bail.

Vitori suffered minor injuries from the crash, FHP said. Sutherlin had two passengers with him. One of them, 24-year-old Joseph Pascalli of New Port Richey, also was treated for minor injuries.

Pascalli is a traffic officer with New Port Richey. Baker said he will also be subject to an internal investigation.

"The fact that he's a police officer, he should probably have known better than to get into a vehicle if he knew a person was intoxicated," Baker said. "So that's something we want to look into."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

New Port Richey officer charged with DUI 10/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 5:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg police investigating why civilian employees accidentally fired AR-15 semiautomatic rife inside HQ

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — An internal police investigation is looking into two civilian employees who accidentally fired a round from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle inside St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters.

    The St. Petersburg Police Department is investigating an incident in which two civilian employees accidentally fired an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle they brought inside police headquarters. Department rules prohibit civilian employees from bringing weapons into police facilities.
  2. A 12-foot pilot whale washes ashore on Siesta Key

    Environment

    A 12-foot-long beached pilot whale appeared on the shore of Point of Rocks Beach in Siesta Key early Friday morning, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

    The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office responded to a 12-foot whale washing ashore early Friday morning. (Sarasota Sheriff's Office)
  3. Trump signs 'VA accountability' bill, as Gus Bilirakis watches

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Rep. Gus Bilirakis was among a group of lawmakers on hand to see President Trump sign a "VA accountability bill that will make it easier to dismiss problem employees.

  4. In this June 18, 2012, file photo President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, go to shake hands during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. [AP photo]
  5. Gradebook podcast: Charter school fraud, budget woes and more

    Blogs

    School districts across Florida have been grappling with financial concerns they contend lawmakers did not improve with a new state education budget. Reporter Marlene Sokol joins reporter Jeff Solochek to discuss the problems as they're manifest in Hillsborough County, which has local woes beyond anything the state has …

    Hillsborough School Board member April Griffin has been asking pointed questions about the district's budget.