PIQUA — A Piqua police officer charged with OVI after wrecking his patrol vehicle over the weekend submitted a written plea of not guilty prior to his scheduled arraignment on Wednesday morning.
The written plea and a time waiver were filed by attorney Mark Wieczorek of Cincinnati on behalf of Piqua police officer Justin W. Augustine, 38, of Troy, who was accused of being intoxicated while wrecking his patrol cruiser while on-duty on Saturday evening. Augustine is currently on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is underway.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Augustine self-reported a crash on private property to his supervisor. The crash took place in the rear parking lot of the former Piqua Board of Education office, located at 719 E. Ash St.
Augustine reportedly struck a flat-bed semi-trailer loaded with concrete barriers used to separate lanes in road construction areas. The trailer had damage to a light fixture on the front right corner. Dick Lumpkin’s Towing towed the police cruiser from the scene.
According to Piqua police reports about the incident, Augustine told his supervisor Lt. Rick Byron of the Piqua Police Department that he was trying to urinate near the southeast corner of the building.
Lt. Byron observed “significant damage to the entire passenger side” of Augustine’s patrol vehicle, beginning at the front windshield and ending on the rear quarter panel. The windshield and both passenger side door windows were broken, according to police reports.
When Lt. Byron asked Augustine what happened, Augustine reportedly said again that he was trying to urinate. Augustine said that he was driving 20 mph during the incident. Augustine would also occassionally yell obscenities while he was being questioned.
An officer observed that Augustine’s eyes “were bloodshot and red and that his speech was slow and slurred,” according to police reports. A Four Loko Gold 14 percent alcohol per volume malt beverage can was later located in the driver’s door of Augustine’s personal vehicle. An empty can of the same beverage was also found near the crash scene.
The Piqua Police Department attempted to have Augustine go to the Upper Valley Medical Center to undergo a drug and alcohol screen due to being in an accident with a city-owned vehicle, but he refused. Augustine reportedly admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the day, but he refused all OVI tests and was placed under an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
In body camera footage following the wreck when Augustine and Byron are back at the Piqua Police Department, Augustine can be seen swearing repeatedly at Lt. Byron, offering limited cooperation about possibly being intoxicated and his own state of mind.
In the beginning of the footage, Augustine repeatedly stated, “I’m done” to Byron, saying that he did not need to call someone to come pick him up from the police station and that he “can drive fine.”
Augustine later admitted that he was drunk earlier in the day, but denied being drunk in that moment. He also continued to refuse to take an alcohol and drug test.
Byron is also instructed to treat Augustine’s refusal like a “normal OVI.”
Byron later noted in his body camera footage that Augustine made a comment, “I might as well be dead.” Byron described Augustine as “totally insubordinate.” Byron also noted that Augustine was not wearing his bulletproof vest, saying, that Augustine “drove for an hour without a vest.”
Augustine was cited for OVI — Refusal and operating a vehicle without being in reasonable control of vehicle.
The case was assigned to Judge Samuel Huffman in Miami County Municipal Court. A preliminary hearing for Augustine has not yet been scheduled.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org