BALTIMORE — An on-duty Baltimore police officer has been charged and terminated after witnesses raised concerns that he looked to be impaired while sitting in his police vehicle, the 11 News I-Team has learned. Officials said a breathalyzer test found his blood-alcohol level was a 0.22.
A patrol car was parked Tuesday afternoon at a curb in the 700 block of Washington Boulevard with lights flashing and the officer slumped over, appearing to be asleep, witnesses said.
Police officers seen in pictures were called around 1:40 p.m. to investigate the officer, who can’t be seen in the photos, to check on his well-being. The officer was sitting behind the wheel of a parked patrol car. The first responding officer was flagged down by a witness who had tried to wake up the officer in the car.
Officials identified the officer as Aaron Heilman, who was working and in full uniform at the time.
“I started banging on the window pretty hard and he came to a little bit, and I asked him to wind down his window and he did, and as he wound down his window, I asked him if he was OK. He said he was, but he was a little disoriented, and I also smelled what I thought was alcohol,” the witness said.
Witnesses snapped pictures of the scene, including one of an officer removing the gun belt of the officer in the car. He was taken out of his patrol car and driven away.
“He was having a very difficult time walking. He had an officer on each side of him. They had to assist him in walking,” a witness said.
Police said Heilman was taken to Central Booking on suspicion of being under the influence. Heilman agreed to a breathalyzer and blew a .22 BAC, officials said.
Heilman was cited and suspended immediately, police said. He was subsequently terminated by Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle.
“I looked at the totality of the circumstances involved in this case and I made the decision to terminate this officer immediately,” Tuggle said. “His actions represented a safety issue for himself and the community. I simply won’t tolerate it.”
Witnesses said they were questioned by Internal Affairs officers, who investigate police misconduct.
The witness said that after the first officer arrived and started to talk the officer in patrol car, they saw the officer in the car pop chewing gum into his mouth.
Officials said Heilman was a probationary officer working an overtime crime suppression detail after having been off for two days. He began working approximately three hours prior to him being discovered slumped over the wheel of the patrol vehicle, police said.
Heilman was recently hired, according to sources, which again calls attention to the hiring and training of city police officers. Two months ago, rookie Arthur Williams was charged with felony assault after allegedly beating up a man in east Baltimore. Williams resigned.
The city is pushing hard to get more officers on the street. Mayor Catherine Pugh acknowledged Wednesday the balance between speed and quality of training.
“As I look at what we are doing, and that is trying to get as many police officers into the Police Department as quickly as possible without violating the process, you all heard the complaints earlier, even from the training perspective. Are you all training police officers the way they should be to meet the needs of the streets of Baltimore?” Pugh said.
BPD officer behind wheel in patrol car below taken off street Tuesday after witnesses saw him slumped in car, disoriented and smelled alcohol. Other officers were flagged down, one, female officer below removed his gun. IAD involved.
BPD has yet to provide any info pic.twitter.com/Rg4Pk8nVRQ