Chattanooga police cadet arrested, charged with drunk driving

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Brielle Kiersten Leary
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Brielle Kiersten Leary

A Chattanooga police cadet has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence after crashing her car into a tree on Tuesday morning, according to a sworn affidavit after the incident.

"The female appeared to be off balance and almost fell to the ground on two separate occasions," stated the affidavit seeking her arrest by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Brielle Kiersten Leary, 34, was arrested shortly before 7 a.m., after a call of a vehicle on a guard wire near a power pole near Hale Road, according to the affidavit.

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Leary told the responding deputy she was traveling north on Hale Road when her vehicle "hydroplaned causing her to run off the side of the road and spike a tree," according to the affidavit.

The responding deputy did not find any evidence that supported Leary's explanation of the crash, but he did find evidence that Leary was traveling south and left the lane the lane she was traveling in as she took a curve, causing her to impact a tree, according to the affidavit.

"While speaking to the female I could hear her speech was slurred and faster than normal while speaking," the affidavit said. "The female continued to stumble while walking around her vehicle."

When the deputy asked her if she had been drinking, Leary said she had "a drink and a half" the evening before, according to the affidavit.

The deputy then asked Leary to perform a field sobriety test, which was "stopped at 40 seconds to do a delay starting the test" since Leary could not move her eyes and keep her head still and was unable to keep her balance and also failed to touch heel to toe with each step, according to the affidavit.

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The Chattanooga police department issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying officials were notified of Leary's arrest and will be conducting their own investigation into the matter.

"Chattanooga Police were advised that a police cadet had been involved in a single-vehicle accident near 7800 Hale Road," Assistant Chief Jerri Sutton said in a Wednesday news release. "Due to indicators at the scene, the cadet was arrested and charged with driving under the influence."

Leary is under administrative review, Sutton said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

The department did not respond to inquiries about whether Leary would be able to continue at the academy after her arrest.

"The information provided in the release is all we are prepared to say at this point," Sutton said in Wednesday morning email to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We have a process for investigations including investigating our own. When we're able to say more about the investigation, I assure you, we'll release it."

Leary, who is out on a $3,000 bond, is to appear before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes on Jan. 17.

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Contact La Shawn Pagan at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.


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