CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA - A former eastern Kanawha County police officer was arrested after police found him passed out over the wheel of his SUV blocking an exit ramp in Dunbar.
Dunbar Patrolman J.A. Payne was dispatched early Sunday to the Interstate 64 eastbound exit ramp at Dunbar after motorists reported the vehicle.
Payne found a black Nissan SUV sitting in the middle of the ramp and identified the driver as Matthew Allan Leavitt, 34, of Charleston, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Leavitt was passed out and slumped over the wheel with the vehicle, which was running and shifted into drive.
The officer tried to wake Leavitt. Leavitt came to but could not answer any of the officer’s questions and kept slumping back over the wheel. Payne wrote in the complaint that he could smell alcohol coming from Leavitt’s face.
Paramedics went to the scene to check Leavitt out. Leavitt was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slow and slurred, the complaint said.
Leavitt was cleared to perform field sobriety tests but refused them. He refused a breath test and a blood test.
Leavitt told Payne he had consumed “several” alcoholic beverages and that he was “just trying to make it home,” the complaint said.
Leavitt pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009 to violating a couple’s rights while working as a police officer in Montgomery in 2008. He admitted to beating Twan Reynolds, a black man, with a slapjack and arrested Reynolds’s wife, Lauren Santella-Reynolds, who is white, on a charge of driving under the influence without probable cause.
He was sentenced in September 2009 to two years in federal prison and two years supervised release.
Leavitt was arrested Sunday for driving under the influence, failure to submit a breath test and obstructing the road. He was released from South Central Regional Jail on bond.