DUI arrest an ‘embarrassment’ for Norwalk cop granted probation
BRIDGEPORT — A veteran Norwalk cop, accused of driving drunk and crashing on Interstate 95 in Fairfield, was granted two pretrial probation programs Friday.
“I’d like to apologize, this has been an embarrassment to me and my family and I want to assure you this isn’t going to happen again,” Hector Delgado told Superior Court Judge Eugene Calistro, his voice cracking with emotion.
“You are in a position of trust as a police officer and now you find yourself in the position of facing criminal charges,” the judge told Delgado. “You are held to a higher standard, but I don’t see any reason why you should not be granted these programs.”
The judge then granted the 26-year police veteran accelerated rehabilitation on the charge of interfering with a police officer and the Alcohol Education Program for the drunken driving charge.
Assistant State’s Attorney Felicia Valentino told the judge she was not objecting to Delgado getting the programs after her investigator spoke to the arresting state trooper.
“He (the trooper) said most of the intoxicated people he has arrested are uncooperative and he has no ill feelings toward Mr. Delgado and is taking no position on the application,” Valentino said.
Earlier, Judge Calistro dismissed the charge of illegally carrying a firearm while under the influence after Delgado’s lawyer, John R. Gulash, argued there was no evidence his client was carrying a gun at the time of the arrest.
“The statute requires that the firearm must be on his person, but the police body cam shows that the gun was found in the car’s console,” he said.
Under accelerated rehabilitation, Delgado didn’t admit his guilt but was placed on one-year of probation. If he commits no other crimes during that probation, the pending charge of interfering with an officer will be dismissed. Under the alcohol program, Delgado will have one year to successfully complete 10 education sessions. If he completes the session successfully, the drunken driving charge will be dismissed.
Delgado, who runs a charity that provides bicycles to underprivileged children, referees local basketball games and helps at the Police Activities League boxing gym, was also ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
“In most of the cases that come before me, individuals get involved in community service only since their arrest but Mr. Delgado has been involved in the community long before this incident,” the judge said.
Delgado was arrested after police said he sideswiped a truck on I-95 in Fairfield and fled the scene on Aug. 8.
Valentino said a driver reported Delgado’s hit-and-run accident around 9 p.m. that night. She said the witness followed Delgado off the highway to the parking lot of a Fairfield Midas on Post Road.
State police said they saw Delgado pulling out of the parking lot when they arrived. State police said they followed Delgado before they were “successfully able to get the vehicle stopped” more than a half-mile away.
State police said they smelled “a heavy odor” of alcohol on Delgado’s breath while speaking to him and he later failed a field sobriety test. He was later found to have a blood-alcohol content of .2034 or more than twice the legal limit.
Delgado told a state trooper he had been drinking at a police league softball game prior to the crash, according to the video.
In the video, Delgado pleaded with the state trooper to not arrest him. The footage shows the trooper warning Delgado that he will be taken to the ground if he continued to tense up. However, Delgado repeatedly asked not to be handcuffed, saying he was “claustrophobic.” The exchange set off a tense few moments before the trooper brought Delgado to the ground.
However, the trooper later gave Delgado an “opportunity” to avoid an arrest by completing a field sobriety test.
“It’s in your best benefit to prove that you are safe to drive,” the trooper told Delgado.
However, Delgado was arrested when he refused to complete the one-legged stand portion of the test.
Valentino added the interfering charge last month after reviewing the footage.
Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik suspended Delgado for five days after he saw the video in October.
According to his comprehensive employee report, there have been nine substantiated allegations made against Delgado since 2003.
In 2003, he was suspended three days for incompetence, unbecoming behavior and violation of rules. In 2011, he was suspended five days for violating and failing to conform to department rules. In 2012, he was suspended 10 days for unbecoming conduct.
In 2015, Kulhawik ordered Delgado to undergo counseling for instances of insubordination and neglect of duty.
Delgado’s personnel file, which only dates back to 2003, does not include a 500-day suspension he received after he was charged in 1996 with third-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint. A 28-year-old woman accused Delgado of groping her during a traffic stop in Norwalk, but a jury did not find her credible and he was acquitted of the charges.