CHP Officer, Public Defender Engage in Spirited Back & Forth in DUI Preliminary Trial

By Gabriel Eskandari

SACRAMENTO, CA. – During a preliminary hearing Monday in Sacramento County Superior Court for Shanon Canady, who is facing driving under the influence charges, California Highway Patrol officer Reynaldo Garcia-Barron had a spirited back-and-forth with Assistant Public Defender Marlon Llanes.

Deputy District Attorney Adriana Garcia called Officer Garcia-Barron, who said Canady went half way into an intersection on a green light, stopped in the middle, and reversed out as the light turned yellow and then red.

He also said Canady had no license plates, and that he almost crashed into a pole when the officer turned on his lights to stop him. Officer Garcia-Barron stated that Canady got out of the car with an empty Coors bottle in hand, and that he admitted to having “one beer way earlier.”

The officer said Canady mentioned being on psychiatric meds and blood thinners, and that the last time he had taken any was three days prior. Notably, he also said Canady said he had “bad legs” during a sobriety test.

The officer also said that he stopped the “one-leg stand” field sobriety test because of Canady’s “inability to maintain his balance and almost falling.” He said he then skipped the “walk and turn” test for this reason and went on to an alphabet test, in which Officer Garcia-Barron testified Canady made mistakes.

Officer Garcia-Barron also said that Canady’s results from the preliminary alcohol screenings were 0.256 and 0.243.

PD Llanes asked whether the officer’s vehicle was equipped with MVARS, or mobile video audio recording systems. Officer Garcia-Barron said it was not.

“Isn’t it common procedure for patrol vehicles to be equipped with MVARS?” Llanes asked.

“I would like you to come down to our office and look at how many patrol vehicles we have available, how many are broken,” Officer Garcia-Baron quipped, but then admitted that “Usually yes, that’s the first cars that go. However, if those are all gone, then you take whatever is available. The car available that day was a vehicle with no MVARS.”

“And you did not have body-worn camera?” Llanes continued, but was informed CHP officers do not wear them.

Llanes then went on to ask about the officer’s field sobriety tests, asking the officer if he asked Canady about his “bad legs” that Canady had noted earlier – the officer said he did not.

“You didn’t think that was relevant to his performance on the FSTs [field sobriety tests]?” asked Llanes.

Officer Garcia-Barron replied by explaining that he skipped the balance tests that normally would come after the one-leg stand test because Canady told him he had bad legs.

“But he did perform one test involving balance, and you did not ask him what was wrong with his legs. You thought that wasn’t relevant to the performance?” Llanes asked again.

The officer stated that Canady had already performed the one-leg stand test prior to mentioning his bad legs, so he documented what he saw. After that, he says he took that into consideration and didn’t conduct the following balance tests.

Llanes continued to prod the officer, asking a hypothetical: “Let’s say someone has a broken leg, and you ask this person to do the one-leg stand. And then after the performance of the one-leg stand, this person says, ‘I have a broken leg.’ Just because you asked the question after the performance, doesn’t that mean the ailment would still affect the performance of the prior one-leg stand?”

Officer Garcia-Barron responded by saying, “Correct, however if he had a broken leg he’d also have a cast, so I probably wouldn’t do that, right?”

“Yes, however, you didn’t even inquire as to what the ailment was.” Llanes noted, adding that medication could also be a factor that affects performance on a balance test. The officer agreed, depending on what the medication is.

Ultimately, Canady pleaded not guilty to multiple felony and misdemeanor charges relating to the incident, and denied the accompanying allegations and enhancements. A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 8:45 a.m.

About The Author

Gabriel is a recent graduate of UC Davis. He majored in Political Science.

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