Bethel cop charged with DUI at police shooting scene

by Angela Denning-Barnes on May 8, 2013

Last October, a Bethel police officer shot and killed a man in a neighborhood near Brown’s Slough. The man, 24-year-old Sam Alexie Jr., was intoxicated and pointed a rifle at the officer who then shot him. Now, the situation has grown more complicated as one of the officers on the scene was allegedly drunk.

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Charges have been filed against Samuel Symmes, also known as Colin. He’s no longer a police officer but was the night of October 2, and he wasn’t the shooting officer, but was assisting at the scene. The state is charging him with three misdemeanors: two counts of DUI and one count of misconduct involving a weapon.

Symmes now works for the city as a dispatcher and City Manager, Lee Foley, says they’re going to keep him on the job.

“Until a decision is reached, whether it’s for an employee or against, the city supports that employee through that process,” Foley says.

According to the District Attorney’s charging documents, this is what happened that night. Symmes was off duty when he responded to a call to assist. He arrived to the scene in his police car, wearing a firearm. Initially, his behavior seemed normal to other officers and he was tasked with securing the scene.

However, he fell down a couple of times before becoming unconscious. The first time he fell on his knees and said he was fine. The second time he hit his head and again said he was fine, but was later found in his car, slumped over the driver’s seat. He was taken to the Bethel hospital by ambulance.

Police said it was slippery that night. In a press release following the incident, police did not identify the officers present, but said one of them had fallen on slippery stairs at the home and was treated at the hospital for a severe concussion.

At the hospital, Symmes was also given a blood test which showed alcohol present. The state crime lab analysis showed his alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

Symmes does not believe the test was accurate and neither does his attorney, Myron Angstman of Bethel. The State has requested DNA sampling from Symmes to prove the accuracy but the Defense is trying to suppress that request. In court documents, the defense argues that it’s the state’s responsibility to prove Symmes guilt and to get a sample done now–months later–would go against his right to privacy.

That’s where the case stands now as the judge, Dan Ogg, has yet to decide on the DNA issue.

Symmes worked as a police officer for nearly 3 years before voluntarily resigning 6 days after the shooting. A few months later, he was hired back as a dispatcher.

Meanwhile, City Manager, Lee Foley implores the community to not jump to conclusions. He says Symmes did not contribute to what happened that night.

“And he shouldn’t be judged in the community,” Foley says. “If we’re going to judge somebody, let it be done in an official capacity and then let’s see how everything falls out.”

The next court procedure in the case is a calendar call May 14 at the Bethel Court House.

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