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Killpack video shows wobbling and weaving

Published June 17, 2010 7:57 pm

Arrest » Dash-cam images released following a legal fight by the state to keep them private.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A dash-cam video of the DUI arrest of Sheldon Killpack last January shows the then-Senate majority leader weaving slightly, brushing a center line and clipping a curb after the Highway Patrol trooper's lights turned on and he pulled off the road.

"Talking with you I can smell the alcohol. How much alcohol have you had tonight?" asks Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Raymond Thomson.

Killpack, wearing a black baseball cap and sweater vest, initially tells the trooper that he had not been drinking and the smell was his passenger, who was later identified as lobbyist and former state Rep. Mark Walker.

The video shows Killpack failing several field sobriety tests, wobbling as he tries to walk a straight line and losing his balance and hopping while trying to hold up his leg and count.

Killpack refused a breath test and asked several times during the stop to see the video of him swerving. As the trooper was putting handcuffs on the senator, Killpack stood up and the trooper threatened to shock him with a Taser.

"Do not move. Do not move. If you do you will be Tased with a Taser."

Killpack was stopped just after midnight on Jan. 15, a few days before the start of the 2010 legislative session, leaving the bar Liquid Joe's where he had been watching a concert by The Metal Gods, a hair band cover act.

Third District Judge Denise Lindberg ruled the video and a written report of the arrest were public record and should be released to the media, the culmination of a five-month dispute between news outlets and the Department of Public Safety, which had argued the release could impair Killpack's right to a fair trial.

Killpack said Thursday he never objected to the release of the video.

"This hasn't been my fight. ... It's never been my main concern that it not be released," Killpack said. "I'm somewhat numb. ... Literally, I'm riddled with ambivalence on whether this should be released."

Jeff Hunt, who represented the The Tribune and other outlets demanding the release of the records, said the judge's ruling sets a good precedent for future cases.

Killpack allegedly was driving erratically near 3300 South and 700 East. The video shows him weaving slightly, brushing the white dotted center line at least once and possibly twice.

Killpack's attorney has argued that there was no reason for the trooper to stop his client; prosecutors have argued that there was cause for a stop, even if it is not shown on the video.

An arrest report says that Thomson observed Killpack's black Toyota pickup truck wander side to side, straddling the center line, although that is not shown on the video. When he was stopped, the trooper said he could smell the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and on Killpack's breath.

Killpack had "red, glossy, droopy eyes and a flushed face." He staggered walking to the test area, smelled of alcohol and performed poorly in field sobriety tests, according to the report.

Killpack refused a Breathalyzer test, demanding again to see the video showing why he was stopped.

"Are you willing to take the chemical test?" Thomson asked.

"Are you willing to show me the video?" Killpack responded.

The trooper obtained an electronic warrant and transported Killpack to have blood drawn, which he argued against, saying he wanted to talk to an attorney first.

"You can either be compliant or I can call the goon squad in here, like I mentioned before, and we can have four or five guys hold you down and I can draw blood," the officer said.

Killpack complied and the test results later showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.11, above the 0.08 legal limit.

The senator resigned his office the next day and was charged with driving under the influence, a class B misdemeanor, and failure to signal, a class C misdemeanor.

The video runs more than three hours, but at no point did Killpack identify himself as a senator, nor is there any indication the trooper knew who he was or gave Killpack special treatment. Most of it shows Killpack sitting quietly in the back of the police car, fidgeting side to side.

Killpack's attorney, Ed Brass, is seeking to suppress evidence collected at the stop. Attorneys will argue the motion on July 28.

Meanwhile, Killpack is appealing the state Driver License Division's suspension of his driver license -- which is automatic if a driver refuses a breath test. A bench trial on that issue is set for Aug. 17 before 3rd District Judge John Paul Kennedy.