A Lakeland police officer was arrested Saturday under suspicion of driving under the influence while he and other LPD officers were in Fort Walton Beach for a police K9 event.
K9 unit officer Chad A. Landry, 35, was arrested and later declined a blood alcohol test. His LPD-issued Chevy Tahoe was claimed by his immediate supervisor, Sgt. Aaron Peterman, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office report.
Deputy James D. Burnham first saw the LPD vehicle pull an “uncontrolled u-turn” at 5:22 a.m. on U.S. 98 “in front of oncoming traffic at a high rate of speed,” according to the deputy’s report.
The deputy said that as he followed Landry, he “swerved multiple times from left to right and over the inner lane divider line.”
At a red light, Landry stopped, but when the light switched to green, “the vehicle did not accelerate for nine seconds, at which point the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed,” according to the report.
The deputy wrote that he activated his body-worn camera to capture the incident.
Upon stopping Landry, the deputy said his speech was slurred and he was mumbling. He wrote that Landry had “bloodshot, watery and glassy” eyes.
Landry could not accurately complete the field sobriety test, the deputy wrote, and Landry was transported to jail booking. There, Landry refused a breath test twice.
The department has placed Landry on administrative leave “and an administrative investigation will be completed swiftly,” LPD reported in a news release. His annual salary is $57,894, the release said.
The department said Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia has spoken to Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley and “expressed his dire concern with this incident,” according to the release. “The sheriff offered his agency’s full cooperation.”
The U.S. Police Canine Association field trials began Sunday in Fort Walton Beach and continue through Friday.
Landry and other members of the LPD K9 unit were in Fort Walton Beach for a United States Police Canine Association event taking place this week.
Landry was assigned to the K9 unit late last year, according to LPD. Landry was not a member of the unit when nine members were temporarily suspended in 2017 while under investigation. The investigation followed an accusation that they were speeding as fast as 101 miles per hour on Interstate 10 in department-issued vehicles while returning from a K9 competition.
Five of the team members admitted to filling the car’s camera memory with junk footage prior to the trip.
Landry had been a law enforcement officer for 12 years before being named last December to LPD’s K9 team, where he was paired with a dog named Nox. Before joining LPD in 2015, he worked with police departments in Sebring and Lake Wales, according to an LPD Facebook post from last year. He was paid a salary of $57,894.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department report: