A court report filed in the criminal case against Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Michael J. Crawford states that the accident he was involved in earlier this month that led to a misdemeanor DUI charge against him was worse than originally reported.
Hailey police reported earlier that Crawford was investigated for DUI after he backed into a parked car on Main Street in Hailey on the evening of Aug. 11. However, a probable-cause affidavit filed in the case by Hailey Patrolman Jeremiah Jones states that Crawford backed into the parked vehicle not once, but three times.
Jones stated in the affidavit that he was in a police car behind Crawford’s pickup truck when the accident occurred and that he observed the entire sequence of events.
Crawford was not arrested, but was instead issued a citation charging him with misdemeanor DUI.
Arraignment in Blaine County Magistrate Court was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 27. However, it has now been rescheduled for Sept. 11.
According to court records, Crawford has retained the services of Ketchum attorney Brian Elkins, who specializes in DUI cases, as defense counsel.
Crawford, who has served as Sun Valley assistant police chief for about 10 years, was suspended with pay on Monday, Aug. 20. Sun Valley city officials reported that his annual salary is $88,317.
A probable-cause affidavit, such as the one filed by Jones, is a standard court document filed in a criminal case providing information that supports a criminal charge. Jones’ affidavit was filed on Aug. 13 but was not available for public review in the Crawford court file until Aug. 21.
Jones wrote that he was in a police vehicle directly behind Crawford, who was southbound in a black Toyota Tundra pickup, when Crawford stopped in traffic to parallel park near Hailey City Hall. Waiting behind Crawford, Jones wrote that he saw Crawford’s truck strike the driver side bumper of a parked red Toyota RAV4 SUV.
Jones wrote that Crawford then pulled forward, attempted to park again and hit the RAV4 a second time. Jones then activated his police lights and got out of his car to talk to him.
Jones wrote that while he was approaching Crawford’s truck, “I yelled for the driver to stop but the driver of the Tundra backed up and struck the Rav4 a third time and then came to a complete stop while both vehicles were still touching.”
Hailey police estimated damage to the RAV4 at between $500 and $1,000 and reported that Crawford’s truck was not damaged.
Upon investigation, Jones wrote that Crawford had a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. It also appeared that Michael’s speech was slurred.”
Crawford was then taken into Hailey City Hall. Jones wrote that inside the building, Crawford failed three field sobriety tests, had trouble keeping his balance and had to “put his left hand on the wall three times to keep from falling.”
Crawford was then taken to the Blaine County Public Safety Facility where he was administered two breath tests using an Intoxilyzer 5000 breath-test machine. Jones wrote that Crawford registered a blood-alcohol level of .182 in the first test and .178 in the second.
Either value is more than double the legal driving blood-alcohol limit in Idaho of .08.
Elkins said Tuesday that his client is willing to pay for any damages to the RAV4. He criticized coverage of the incident by the Idaho Mountain Express.
“I think it’s inappropriate to try his case in the newspaper based upon a police report,” he said. “He is entitled to the presumption of innocence, which is a constitutional protection.”
Terry Smith: email@example.com