Corporal Lisa Steed has been fired from the Utah Highway Patrol and sued for falsifying dozens of DUI arrests to advance her career.
Several of those who were falsely accused by Steed of driving under the influence have filed a lawsuit against her in District Court in Salt Lake County. The lawsuit alleges that Steed bolstered her career by stopping and arresting people for driving under the influence when there was little to no supporting evidence.
“We were all separately getting calls about Lisa Steed from people saying: ‘I was pulled over. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She told me I smelled like alcohol, but I hadn’t been drinking,’ ” Robert Sykes, attorney for the plaintiffs, told The New York Times. “They would pass the sobriety test with flying colors. But Steed would say they were still impaired and arrest them.”
Apparently Utah Highway Patrol was aware that Steed’s arrests might have been less than credible. A 2010 police memorandum indicated that 20 of Steed’s DUI of marijuana cases were reviewed and it was found that the defendants had no drugs in their system when Steed would report that drivers would show visual signs of impairment. The Highway Patrol sergeant who wrote the memo further indicated that he worried that defense lawyers would begin to question the reliability of Steed’s arrests.
Many of the charges filed as a result of Steed’s arrests were eventually reduced or dropped, but not before the defendants paid bail, vehicle impound costs, and court related fees often exceeding $1,000.
How far back do the false arrests go? Lawyers for the plaintiffs are unsure. “The 40 or so individuals that have contacted us have to be the tip of the iceberg because Steed arrested many other people,” said Michael Studebaker, another attorney for the plaintiffs. “Her actions are so blatant, that it is probable that she acted like this in an untold number of cases.”
Steed may have been falsifying DUI arrest at least since 2007, when she was awarded trooper of the year, presumably for her “commendable” high number of arrests. This begs the question; why did it take so long for the Utah Highway Patrol to do something about Steed, especially since they were aware of possible misconduct? One can only guess. Maybe the high arrest rate boosted the office’s reputation also. Whatever the reason, it probably wasn’t worth it as the Utah Highway Patrol was also named in the lawsuit.