The officers recognized O’Neill, 39, and proceeded to wake him. After a brief conversation, the officers noticed that he was impaired, said Skuletich. The officers then administered one field sobriety test — known as the horizontal gaze — that O’Neill failed. O’Neill then refused any further field sobriety tests and was detained.
At the local jail, O’Neill took and failed a second sobriety test and then refused to take a breathalyzer or blood test. He was charged shortly afterward and released on bond for $685. His license is currently suspended, and in the interim he was given a 72-hour temporary driver’s license, as it was his first offense, said Skueletich. O’Neill is expected to appear in court Monday.
In an emailed statement, O’Neill said he had taken a prescribed sleep aid prior to his arrest.
“While the timing was bad and I highly regret this decision, I am innocent of the charge and have entered a plea of not guilty,” O’Neill said.
He also expressed his appreciation of the Butte Police Department for their “professionalism and courtesy.”
O’Neill first started talking in 2014 about his role in Operation Neptune Spear, the name of the covert mission to eliminate bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. O’Neill’s exploits were first described anonymously in a 2013 Esquire article that referred to him only as “The Shooter.” In October 2014, his identity was released to the public after an emotional exchange between O’Neill and family members of those killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
O’Neill left the Navy in 2012 as a senior chief petty officer and has since taken up a career in public speaking. According to his personal website, O’Neill participated in more than 400 combat missions and received two Silver Stars and four Bronze Stars with Valor.
This post has been updated to reflect comments from O’Neill.
Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.