Ohio State Trooper, Tammy Soto, who has developed a reputation for her hard-nosed approach to DUI investigations, was fired for fixing the investigation of a local police officer.
Soto responded to a call that a driver was driving the wrong way on an interstate.
After initiating the stop, Soto recognized the driver as William Lachner. Lachner was a member of the nearby Lorain Police Department and a colleague of Soto’s husband, Ed Soto, who was also a member of the Lorain Police Department.
Following the stop, Soto’s dashcam captured Soto leading Lachner, who was allegedly intoxicated, to her patrol car during which time Soto it is clear that Soto recognizes Lachner.
“Lachner, right?” Soto can be heard asking in her dashcam video. “Yes,” Lachner responded.
Soto then appears to coach Lachner telling him, “Don’t say anything.” Lachner responds by saying, “Alright, I will not.”
I use the word “coach” because, in my experience, most arresting officers at DUI stops want the drivers to talk as much as possible to obtain as much evidence of intoxication as possible.
Then without explanation and against Ohio State Highway Patrol policy, Soto turns off her recorder.
Official reports indicated that Lachner refused field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer. However, we’ll never know whether Lachner actually, himself, refused the tests or if that decision too was influenced by Soto because she deactivated her recording device before the alleged refusal.
What’s more, Soto altered the citation that was issued to Lachner a few days after the arrest so that his case would be heard in a different jurisdiction than where the stop took place.
According to the Chronicle-Telegram, Soto denied fixing Lachner’s citation to cut him a break telling investigators, “No, it wasn’t to look out for [Lachner] other than, like I said, that at least I know he would get a fair shake.”
Hmmm…I wonder how many other “fair shakes” Soto has given DUI suspects in a career for which she has developed a reputation for zealously investigating instances of drunk driving.
Soto’s change in jurisdiction on Lachner’s citation didn’t matter much as he was, nonetheless convicted of OVI (operating a vehicle impaired), Ohio’s equivalent to California’s DUI.
Meanwhile, Soto has appealed her termination.