Witness complaints lead to State Police investigation of crash
NEW ROADS — A high-ranking New Roads police officer was placed on administrative leave Monday and an investigation was launched into possible special treatment the officer may have received when he was suspected of drunken driving Friday night after he crashed his truck.
The Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police are conducting the investigation.
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres said the investigations are driven by complaints from witnesses who claim New Roads police Capt. Mark Munson was not issued a traffic citation or arrested after he crashed his truck into a ditch along North Carolina Avenue in New Roads on Friday night.
“It would appear the complaint is that the (deputy) did not use due diligence,” Torres said during a news conference Monday. “I’m certain all of the deputies know all of the city policemen. At two o’clock in the morning, they depend on each other to support each other.
“But we have to understand that when it gets to a point where a crime has been committed … you have to make those tough decisions,” he said.
Shortly after Torres spoke, New Roads Police Chief Kevin McDonald said Munson, an 18-year veteran of the police force, had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“If there is any cause for further disciplinary actions, they will be taken,” McDonald said.
McDonald confirmed Munson’s crash Friday was his second off-duty wreck this year.
Munson was involved in a two-vehicle accident Feb. 1 when his truck was sideswiped by another vehicle, according to a report made out by Pointe Coupee Parish Deputy Dylan Bergeron.
The report did not mention that anyone involved was drinking alcoholic beverages or which driver was at fault.
According to a traffic report from the Friday crash, Bergeron, the same deputy who investigated Munson’s February wreck, was called to a single-vehicle crash at 11:57 p.m.
Bergeron, who found Munson sitting across the street from the accident, said he discovered a half-empty bottle of gin in the center console of Munson’s truck.
The deputy wrote he could smell a “slight odor” of alcohol on Munson’s breath when he talked to him.
However, Bergeron did not give Munson a Breathalyzer test because he and other officers on his shift were not certified to administer the test, Bergeron said in the report.
Munson’s wife arrived on the scene and drove him home that night, the report says.
Munson did not return calls Monday seeking comment.
Torres said no disciplinary action had been taken against Bergeron. who worked the accident, but that could change, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The sheriff said there were testing options available to Bergeron that night.
The sheriff also said the investigation could result in DWI charges against Munson.
“Depending on what witnesses and people in the area saw, it might be enough to meet the threshold of probable cause,” Torres said. “We are not going to give people preferential treatment. We are going to do our job.”