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Suspected drunk driver not arrested after IMPD found deputy constable made "inappropriate" stop

Officers have to be in marked car or uniform
Posted: 2:26 PM, Apr 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-20 22:13:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS--  A suspected drunk driver walked away from criminal charges after a township deputy constable told the man to pull over and IMPD decided the stop was “inappropriate.”

Most days, Deputy Constable Randy Lane makes sure the Wayne Township court runs smoothly and he serves warrants and other paperwork.

On March 20, Lane was driving downtown to meet a friend for dinner when he saw a truck driving erratically.

“I noticed a truck blows through the light and almost t-boned me,” said Lane. “He was getting ready to hit someone.”

At the time, Lane didn’t know convicted drunk driver George Reaves was driving the truck.

“My concern was for safety,” Lane said. “Safety was number one.”

Lane got on his police radio.

LANE:  I’m at 16th and Martin Luther King Junior. There’s a gentleman that’s intoxicated driving.
DISPATCH: Do you need another car there?
LANE: Yeah, I need a district car please.
IMPD: Control, who is that?
DISPATCH: That was TOM 33-62. He’s at 16th and MLK with an intoxicated male.

Lane said he pulled up beside the driver, George Reaves.

“I say 'stop,' like pull down the window, and to my surprise he pulled over,” Lane said “I sat in the car, and he gets out of the car, and I get out of the car, and by then the police arrived and I flagged them down."

In Indiana, constables have full law enforcement powers.

However, for law enforcement to conduct a traffic stop, the officer has to be in police uniform or be in a marked police car.

Lane was in neither.

"I have never done a traffic stop, even to this day," Lane said.”We don’t do traffic stops.”

Even though Lane has built in emergency lights, he did not activate them or any emergency equipment.

“He could have kept going, and I couldn’t have done anything,” Lane said.

When IMPD arrived, officers did not witness Reaves behind the wheel, operating his vehicle on a public road.

As a result, they towed Reaves’ truck and let the driver go without making an arrest.

“According to the sergeant, he believed the stop was inappropriate (no uniform and/or marked police car) and any evidence of drunk driving would be inadmissible in court,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey in an email to RTV6. “Based on that, no arrest was made.  The car was towed and the driver was released.  The sergeant affirmed his decision with a deputy prosecutor after the incident.” 

IMPD said Lane should have called 911 or used his police radio to ask IMPD to conduct the traffic stop.
Deputy Constable Lane disagreed that his actions were “inappropriate.”

“He didn’t have to pull over,” said Lane. “I was acting more as a citizen.”

Lane said he’s not upset IMPD let Reaves go.

“I believe they did what they believe was right,” said Lane.

Lane said he had a duty to act and would do the same thing again.

“You don’t want to see someone lose their life,” said Lane.

As for George Reaves, he’s facing drunk driving charges stemming from yet another incident.

On March 6, just two weeks before the deputy constable encountered him, IMPD arrested George Reaves for weaving on Massachusetts Avenue with a blood alcohol content of .260%, which is more than three times the legal limit.

Reaves did not return our request for comment, and he’s due in court on May 9.    

What to do if you suspect a drunk driver, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving:

Step one:
Stay as far away from the other vehicle as possible. Don’t try to pass the vehicle or get the driver’s attention—you’ll only put yourself and others at risk of a crash.

Step two:
Try to get a good look at the license plate number and any other distinguishing details of the vehicle—the make, model and color, etc. Just make sure you don’t compromise your own safety while trying to get this information.

Step three:
Call 911. If you have a hands-free way to make calls from your car, great. Otherwise, pull over before making the call. Give the exact location of the vehicle, including the name of the road or cross streets and the direction the vehicle is traveling. Give a complete description of the vehicle and the reasons you for suspecting the driver may be impaired.

If you suspect a police impersonator is attempting to pull you over:
•    Call 911 to verify traffic stop
•    Turn on your flashers or dome light
•    Continue driving at or below the speed limit
•    Go to a well-lit area
•    Police can’t pull over a car unless in uniform or marked car