Pr. George's officer faces DWI, traffic charges

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 2, 2010

A Prince George's County police detective who rolled his unmarked police cruiser over on Central Avenue in January faces multiple drunken driving and traffic charges at a trial later this month.

Officer Darin Rush, who is charged with driving while impaired, driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to control his vehicle's speed, remains suspended from the police department, authorities said. He is scheduled to go on trial April 19.

According to police, Rush was off duty but driving his unmarked police cruiser when the crash occurred just after 10 p.m. Jan. 11. Rush was trying to merge from Route 202 onto the westbound lanes of Central Avenue in the Largo area when his vehicle rolled over, said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a police spokesman.

The crash sent Rush to the hospital and caused "major damage" to the cruiser, Ellis said. Rush was suspended with pay a little more than a week later, when he would have been well enough to return to duty, Ellis said.

There was "probable cause to believe that [Rush] was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol," Ellis said. He declined to discuss what evidence investigators gathered to substantiate that.

Rush was ordered to take a breathalyzer test as part of an internal affairs investigation, Ellis said. The results of the test, which Ellis declined to share, would not be admissible at Rush's trial because they are part of an internal personnel investigation.

Ellis declined to say whether Rush took a breathalyzer as part of the criminal investigation.

The police department did not publicize the incident when it happened, although Ellis responded promptly once a Washington Post reporter inquired about it. He said the department decided not to issue a news release about the case because Rush was off duty during the accident and there was no "overriding public interest" to do so.

Officers are allowed to drive their cruisers while off duty, Ellis said.

Rush hung up on a reporter who called asking for comment. A lawyer listed for him in court records did not return multiple phone messages seeking comment.

Police "have no hesitation" when charging their own officers or officers who work other agencies, Ellis said. In this case, he said, county officers charged Rush, who worked as an investigator out of the District 3 station.

"We hold our employees to a higher standard," he said. "Our officer was in our police car, and the officer's car flipped. That's egregious. That's not something that we're going to let go without following the full extent of the law."

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