Fun on the water results in charges for off-duty officer
EASTON — A day of boating went awry after two off-duty Easton police officers had an accident on the water, leaving one injured and the other with a day in court to answer to a slew of charges, including assault, reckless endangerment and operating a vessel under the influence.
The incident occurred on the evening of Aug. 23, outside Newcomb, when Jeanette Whalley boarded the back of a jet ski operated by Joseph Mitchell Schinault. In a district court trial held Tuesday, Nov. 21, prosecuting attorney David Daggett said Whalley had asked Schinault to “go slow.”
Daggett said that is when Schinault sped up and Whalley asked him again to slow down. Whalley reportedly fell off the jet ski and flipped into the water, causing injuries to her torso and lower extremities.
Daggett said Whalley then screamed for help and two passing boaters rescued her from the water and took her to the Oak Creek boat ramp in Newcomb. At the ramp, Schinault was seen loading his jet ski onto a trailer and leaving the scene.
Schinault ultimately received nine charges for the incident: second-degree assault, operating a vessel under the influence, operating a vessel while impaired, operating a vessel dangerously, boating accident failure to render assistance, boating accident failure to report, assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment and operating a personal watercraft in a negligent manner.
Schinault entered an Alford plea for failure to report a boating accident in exchange for the other charges being dropped.
In an Alford plea, the criminal defendant does not admit guilt but admits the prosecution likely could prove the charge.
Daggett asked for restitution of $1,045.97 for Whalley’s medical bills in exchange for waiving the $350 fine for failing to report a boating accident.
Defense attorney Stephanie Shipley said Schinault has been an officer with the EPD since 2012, and he has received several awards for his service. She said he has had a boating license for 10 years without any prior infractions.
She said Schinault was under the impression another off-duty officer who also was in the boating party was helping Whalley, and he did not realize the incident was considered an accident.
Shipley asked for probation before judgment with full restitution.
Probation before judgment is when a person has been placed on probation before any criminal judgment has been entered against them. This means that rather than pleading guilty to an offense, a person immediately is placed on probation.
Judge Floyd Parks accepted the Alford Plea, the PBJ and the restitution in place of fines for the charge. He ordered Schinault to pay the restitution and courtordered costs of $57.50.
“This is clearly an unfortunate incident,” Parks said. “You will have no right to appeal a PBJ, but it does go on your criminal record and may affect what you do for a living.”
Schinault agreed to pay restitution and the court costs prior to leaving the courthouse on Tuesday.