Sheriff’s deputy arrested for DUI - Morgan Hill Times: Crime Fire Courts

Sheriff’s deputy arrested for DUI

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Posted: Monday, August 13, 2012 4:28 pm | Updated: 3:00 pm, Thu Jan 3, 2013.

A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested by Morgan Hill Police July 4 for driving under the influence. Tyeler Fleckner, 27, who joined the force in November 2006, was not placed on administrative leave as a result, according to Sgt. Jose Cardoza, sheriff’s spokesman.

The arrest occurred at 10:12 p.m. July 4 on Monterey Road and Fourth Streets. Fleckner was charged with DUI by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, and is scheduled for an Aug. 31 court date at South County Courthouse, according to South County supervising deputy D.A. Steve Lowney.

Fleckner notified the sheriff’s office of his arrest. “So procedurally, he did the right thing of notifying us,” Cardoza said.

“When a deputy is arrested for any type of crime, two investigations occur. The criminal investigation by the arresting agency and the administrative investigation done by an internal affairs investigator,” Cardoza said.

He said each internal investigation is a case-by-case basis, giving an example of the difference between crimes such as a DUI and a DUI that results in an injury of someone.

“It’s literally case-by-case basis,” Cardoza said. He could not comment further on whether or not Fleckner saw consequences for his actions, since it’s a personnel issue, he said.

Fleckner was pulled over in a traffic stop by Morgan Hill officer Steve Pennington when Fleckner was driving a pickup truck south on Monterey Road with a female passenger, according to a police report of the arrest. Pennington noticed that Fleckner’s vehicle did not have a license plate affixed to the front bumper.

Pennington contacted Fleckner to pull over with his emergency patrol lights, and when he approached the driver’s side of the vehicle after the pickup stopped, he noticed that Fleckner’s “speech was slightly slurred and his eyes were red and watery,” the arrest report said. Fleckner immediately told Pennington that he was an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

When asked if he had been drinking alcohol, Fleckner told the officer that he drank two beers about 3 p.m., and he could not feel any effects of the alcohol.

The officer then required Fleckner to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, including a one-foot balance test, the police report said.

Pennington asked Fleckner if he would take a breath test to determine his blood-alcohol content. Fleckner did not consent to the optional test, and was detained and transported to the police station for a blood sample. Found in the passenger’s floorboard area of Fleckner’s pickup was an empty bottle of Pacifico beer, which his passenger said she drank.

In an undated press release on the website, the Rotary Club of Cupertino reported that the city’s police Capt. Terry Calderone named Fleckner the sheriff’s office’s “public safety officer of the year.” The press release said Fleckner logged 57 felony arrests, 131 moving violations, and 86 nonmoving violations for the unspecified year which took place after Fleckner served “only two or three years on the job,” the website said.

Fleckner’s name was initially redacted from a Morgan Hill police public arrest record out of “an abundance of caution” because staff did not know if he had been charged by the district attorney’s office yet, according to Chief David Swing. Staff also did not know if Fleckner’s arrest - without charges filed - would be considered unreleasable under state laws that prohibit cities from publicizing certain information about law enforcement officers.

The district attorney’s office has not yet returned a phone call and email requesting the status of Fleckner’s case.

The police department’s support services manager Patti Yinger initially redacted Fleckner’s name, and Sgt. Troy Hoefling released his name after the Times asked why his name was blacked out of the records. Usually, only the names of juveniles are redacted from such reports, but their ages remain public.

Swing added that it is not normal for the department to wait for prosecutors to file before publicizing the names of suspects that Morgan Hill officers have arrested, but records staff were wary of releasing information about a law enforcement officer that might not be public information.

An arrest on suspicion of DUI such as Fleckner’s does not fall into the category of protected police personnel information.

“As much as law enforcement professionals are held to a higher standard, the impact is greater personally and professionally when we make mistakes,” Swing said, adding that the department was not trying to “cover up” Fleckner’s arrest.

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  • Kemp27 posted at 2:28 am on Sat, Aug 25, 2012.

    Kemp27 Posts: 1

    Well surprise, surprise once again Officer Pennington being the hero of the day once again! How in th h*** does this guy wake up in the morning and be able too look in the mirror at himself, after obtaining a fellow law enforcement officer on a missing front licence plate and putting him in a holding cell with other inmates where he could have been assaulted, or some sort of alterication could have taken place giving this young deputy more embarresment! Give Pennington the WOY award already "WEASEL OF THE YEAR"!

  • fredoilveri posted at 1:01 pm on Mon, Aug 20, 2012.

    fredoilveri Posts: 53

    You shouldn't let your Seroquel prescription lapse, whatithink793.

  • Bubba posted at 11:04 am on Sat, Aug 18, 2012.

    Bubba Posts: 12

    Officer Pennington, thank you for enforcing a serious crime like DUI. On a daily basis people are killed or seriously injured by impaired drivers. I have no sympathy for the Deputy who made the decision to drive drunk since he is well aware of the consequences of his actions.

    I wish people understood the seriousness of driving drunk instead of making excuses for others and claiming that it's not a big deal.

  • fredoilveri posted at 10:14 am on Sat, Aug 18, 2012.

    fredoilveri Posts: 53

    whatithink793, remember your pills.

  • whatithink793 posted at 2:28 pm on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    whatithink793 Posts: 20

    Shirley I couldn't agree more. The Deputy made a mistake and needs to answer for it. Just remember though he is human and makes mistakes just like all of us. Let's not forget how many times in a day we as individuals make mistakes or poor decisions (talking on the phone while driving, speeding, running red lights, rolling through stop signs, not signalling etc...) However, The Times did not need to research and publish this story. What were they after, a little Liberal Justice? I like how the article does not have a specific reporter, but is written by "Staff". What, did they all drop what they were doing and jump on this important story? Dragging a cops name through the mud with only half the story (Pennington is known to stretch the truth) is wrong and the fact Pennington placed a fellow cop in the holding tanks with other inmates where he could have been assaulted is just plain wrong. Where was his sergeant when all this went down? Did anyone at MHPD think this was handled incorrectly? I contacted a few friends who work Law Enforcement in the area and maybe the Times should investigate how the Mayor, certain City Council members and other select important volunteers can get pulled over for DUI by MHPD within the city, but miraculously they get driven home. Maybe the times can actually do some investigation and contact MHPD and ask about the Mayor. It was only a few months ago when he was pulled over, drunk, and driven home by a marked unit. Where's the "Equal administration of Law" on that one? Don't believe me, contact MHPD and see if the Mayor has been stopped and what the outcome was. If they lie about it, just get the Mayors license plate and check with MHPD's dispatch to see if that plate was pulled over late in the evening and what the outcome was. It's all public information.

  • Shirley posted at 7:24 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    Shirley Posts: 24

    As pro cop as I am, I also think they are not exempt form rules and or crimes. Its unfortunate the deputy put himself in the position. However, I'm sure there are department repercussions he'll have to answer for this. I have been pulled over by Pennington twice before. Who hasn't that drives and lives in MH? I choose to describe him as pompous. He is exactly the type of person to arrest another officer, just to make a point that he can.

    I'm also surprised at the detail this paper put into the article. All of a sudden, the Times has "In depth" reporting. Where is this type of information on half the other crimes going on in the city? Let's hear how other officers make a car stop and arrest people, and hear what the people arrested say to them.

    I guess there's no equality in reporting or writing articles for this paper...

  • whatithink793 posted at 11:01 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    whatithink793 Posts: 20

    Anyone who know Officer Pennington knows who he royal A**. He's probably the most hated MHPD officer on the force. I have friends who are MHPD Officers and even they profess to hating this guy and cant wait til he retires at the end of the year. I find it interesting that the report only mentions 1 field sobriety test. Pennington must be a true wonder cop (even more than he thinks he is) to arrest someone after performing only one test and then not even getting a blood sample. I guess its true what they say about Pennington....he's even better than he "thinks" he is. should be really proud of your fellow officer and his ability to ferret out crime. I mean, there might actually have been a serious crime, someone getting raped, shot, mugged or even kidnapped instead of missing a front license plate. Way to arrest one of your own brothers. Hopefully the Sheriffs Office remembers just how you treated them and returns the favor when they come across one of yours breaking the law and just "does their jobs".

  • fredoilveri posted at 4:32 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    fredoilveri Posts: 53

    Yeah, why the uproar when law enforcement officers break laws they're tasked with enforcing?

  • Tony_R posted at 1:26 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Tony_R Posts: 65

    Well, did Fleckner fail the field sobriety tests? If he passed, what's the uproar? After all, the traffic stop started out because of a missing license plate, not because the vehicle was meandering all over the street.

  • Buzz posted at 8:28 pm on Mon, Aug 13, 2012.

    Buzz Posts: 27

    Great job MHPD and Officer Pennington, arresting this fellow officer was the correct thing to do.