BETHEL, Alaska — A former Bethel police officer is fighting charges that he was drunk when he showed up armed to assist another police officer at a crime scene.
KYUK-AM reports Samuel Symmes, now employed as a police department dispatcher, is contesting two counts of driving under the influence and one count of weapons misconduct.
Symmes and his attorney, Myron Angstman, contend tests performed on blood samples taken from Symmes were not accurate.
Symmes was off duty Oct. 2 when he responded to a call for assistance from another officer. The officer had contacted 24-year-old Sam Alexie Jr. in a neighborhood near Brown’s Slough. Bethel police said Alexie was intoxicated and pointed a rifle at the other officer, who fired at Alexie and killed him.
Prosecutors in charging documents said Symmes arrived in a police car and was ordered to secure the scene.
His behavior, prosecutors said, at first appeared normal. However, he fell at least twice.
The first time he dropped to his knees. He fell again and hit his head, but said he was not hurt. However, he was later found slumped over the steering wheel of his car and taken by ambulance to a Bethel hospital.
Police in a press release about the shooting said conditions were slippery and that an unidentified officer had fallen on slippery stairs and had suffered a severe concussion.
A sample of Symmes’ blood at the hospital indicated the presence of alcohol. Prosecutors said an analysis of the blood sample at the state crime law showed an alcohol level three times above the legal limit.
Prosecutors have requested a DNA sample from Symmes to prove the accuracy of the blood tests.
Symmes through his attorney wants the request rejected. In court documents, Symmes attorney said it’s the state’s responsibility to prove his client’s guilt and that taking a DNA sample months after the incident would violate Symmes’ privacy.
A judge has not ruled on the request.
Symmes resigned from the police department six days after the shooting. He was hired several months later as dispatcher.
City Manager Lee Foley said the community should not jump to conclusions. Symmes did not play a role in the fatal shooting.
“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.”