MARYLAND

Officer Daniel Gonzalez charged with DUI after crash

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The car debris is scattered along a section of Route 1 in Bladensburg.

Headlight parts. Plastic pieces. Chunks of foam.

Left near the scene of an early morning DUI-related crash, involving a Prince George's County police officer.

"He probably thinks he had it under control, but didn't", says Marcus Lee, of Hyattsville, who frequently travels this road.

Authorities say around 5:15 Saturday morning, 38-year old officer Daniel Gonzalez, crashed his marked police cruiser, while driving drunk.

"Unfortunately, this happens", says Sergeant Sonya Rorls, a police spokeswoman. "But fortunately, no one was injured, including the officer."

Near the intersection of Route 1 and Tanglewood Drive, there are southbound skid marks, and tire tracks that lead down an embankment, into a ditch.

Police won't say if that's what happened to Gonzalez's cruiser.

They do confirm arriving officers suspected he was under the influence.

"A (breath) test was administered by the officer, which a level came back as .13", says Rorls.

A level over .08 is considered legally drunk.

"There's really no excuse for it. He's a public servant, and he has a certain code of ethics to follow", says Lee.

Many are trying to reconcile this episode, with Gonzalez's heroic actions back in February, when he helped rescue residents from a burning building--- the Spellman House apartments, an assisted living facility in College Park.

Gonzalez was among several officers who received commendations from the Prince George's Fire Department.

"These things happen", says Hyattsville resident Christopher Cramer. "I guess he's got to go with the consequences that everyone would have to follow as well."

No one answered the door at Gonzalez's Bowie home Sunday.

A police cruiser was parked outside, but investigators say it is not Gonzalez's, who is now on paid administrative leave.

A police spokesman declined a request from ABC7 News to see the officer's damaged car.

Authorities say it's now being held in an impound lot.

Priscilla Francis, from Mitchellville, hopes the truth comes out.

"I lost a son sixteen years ago, in an auto accident in Columbia", she recalls.

Francis says she hopes the police investigation with be thorough and transparent.

"They're here to protect the public, and if they're not doing what's right, than it's hard for others to follow... so it concerns me."

Gonzalez, a six year veteran of the Prince George's County force, could lose his job, or face drunk driving charges.

Police say they've launched an internal investigation, and findings will be turned over to the state's attorney's office.

There's no word on how long that investigation will take.

 

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