A Phoenix police officer is facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident but avoided a potential charge of driving under the influence after his personal car was seen crashing into a fence at the entrance of a Gilbert park early Saturday morning.
Officer Usiel Molina was seen walking around the neighborhood near the scene of the crash after his red Chevrolet Camaro was found unoccupied and with considerable damage to its front end shortly after 2 a.m., according to Sgt. Jess Sanger with the Gilbert Police Department.
Witnesses told police the Camaro crashed into the fence in the area of Anderson Lane and Sexton Street, tried to leave the area and that a man in a white shirt was seen walking around the car, Sanger said. Molina was wearing a white shirt when he was located by Gilbert officers.
Molina told officers he was a passenger in the car and that he had just left a friend's house when the accident occurred and that he was going to leave the car and have it towed, Sanger said.
Molina was carrying the keys to his car and said he did not want to identify the person he said was driving. Sanger said officers noted at the time signs and symptoms that Molina had been drinking.
Sanger said Molina was detained at the scene but was later released because there were no witnesses directly identifying him as the driver and officers were unable to prove he was driving the car.
Officers later identified the person who Molina said was driving, and that person claimed he was a passenger in the vehicle and that Molina was driving and had dropped him off at home.
This person said he was not involved in a collision prior to being dropped off and that Molina left his house alone in his vehicle.
Molina was being charged with leaving the scene of a property damage collision, Sanger said. He added there was also an open investigation into providing false information to police, which is a misdemeanor.
Steve Martos, of the Phoenix Police Department, would only confirm that Molina has been a Phoenix officer for five years and is currently assigned to the Central City Precinct. Martos said Molina has been placed in a nonenforcement position pending an internal investigation.
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