Capitol Police probe handling of Kennedy crash
Union says officers on scene were prevented from doing their job
Friday, May 5, 2006; Posted: 12:41 p.m. EDT (16:41 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Police officers were told not to give U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy a sobriety test after his traffic accident, police labor union officials say.
Superiors told the officers instead to drive the Rhode Island Democrat home after the accident early Thursday, according to Greg Baird, acting chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police union, who called for an inquiry.
The Capitol Police said Friday that it's investigating the accident, the procedures followed and whether the evidence would support traffic charges.
Kennedy, son of Sen. Ted Kennedy, said in a letter Thursday night he was apparently disoriented by prescription medication when he crashed his car into a barricade on Capitol Hill.
The lawmaker, 39, said police drove him home afterward but that he did not "ask for any special consideration."
Asked if he thought he got preferential treatment, Kennedy said, "That's up for the police to decide, and I'm going to cooperate fully with them."
Police reported seeing Kennedy's car swerve before the crash.
The police report, seen by CNN, includes an observation that Kennedy appeared to have been drinking and his ability was impaired.
"At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol," Kennedy said in a statement.
The report shows Kennedy was cited for three infractions -- failure to keep a proper lane, unreasonable speed and failure to give full time and attention to the operation of a vehicle.
According to the report, Sgt. Kenneth Weaver said he saw Kennedy's vehicle "traveling at a high rate of speed in a construction zone and also swerving into the wrong lane of travel" with its lights off.
Weaver said Kennedy's vehicle hit a curb and swerved back into the wrong lane. He said he was driving east and used "evasive maneuvers in order to avoid a collision" with Kennedy's car.
The officer said he turned around and pursued Kennedy, whose car did not stop but did slow, "finally stopping after colliding head-on with a vehicle barrier."
The report said that when Weaver approached Kennedy he noticed that his "eyes were red and watery, speech was slightly slurred, and upon exiting his vehicle, his balance was unsure."
Officers at the scene said he appeared intoxicated, law enforcement and congressional officials said.
Baird said when two sergeants arrived at the accident scene after the initial two officers, they conferred with the watch lieutenant on duty.
Afterward, the sergeants told the other officers to drive Kennedy home. His car had been damaged, police said.
"I think he was extended a courtesy by virtue of his position," union President Lou Cannon told CNN. Cannon was not at the scene of the crash.
Capitol Police declined CNN's request for an interview Friday.
Lawmaker says medications caused him to be 'disoriented'
In a statement issued late Thursday after the initial media reports of the mishap, Kennedy said that he had returned home after final votes in the House of Representatives around midnight Wednesday and taken "the prescribed amount" of sleep aid Ambien and an anti-nausea drug.
The lawmaker identified that drug as Phenergan, "which in addition to treating gastroenteritis, I now know can cause drowsiness and sedation."
"Sometime around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol complex believing I needed to vote," he said. "Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication."
The elder Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he had no comment.
CNN's Ted Barrett and Brian Todd contributed to this report
What IS it with this family and all the special treatment!?