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Judge Scolds Officer Driving Three Times Legal Limit, Killing One

Chicago Tribune via YellowBrix

December 23, 2009

COOK COUNTY – A Cook County judge on Tuesday admonished a Lockport police officer accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal crash, saying he should know the consequences of drinking and driving.

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Prosecutors say Edward Stapinski drove his Mitsubishi Gallant about 80 mph into a median on Interstate Highway 55 Sunday night, flipping his car into oncoming traffic and hitting a Toyota Camry head-on. Man K. “Mike” Wong, 29, was killed in the crash. Blood tests showed Stapinski’s blood-alcohol level was 0.223, or about three times the legal limit, officials said.

“This is an offense that resulted in the fatality of a person simply driving at a reasonable time of day on the expressway,” Associate Judge Maureen Feerick said at a Bridgeview bond hearing.

Feerick said that as a police officer, Stapinski “held the public trust” and had a job that “gave him insight” into the consequences of his actions.

Stapinski, 34, was off duty at the time of the 9:30 p.m. crash and was drinking beer at a West Loop bar from about 6 to 9 p.m., Assistant State’s Attorney John Carroll said.

He was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence.

His bond was set at $750,000, and he is forbidden from driving, will have to surrender his passport and any firearms in his possession as well as his firearm identification card, Feerick said.

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