Win­ter Springs cop re­signs af­ter DUI

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Grace Toohey [email protected] or­lan­dosen­tinel.com

A Win­ter Springs po­lice of­fi­cer re­cently re­signed from the agency months af­ter he was ar­rested on a driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence charge fol­low­ing an off-duty crash on I-95 that in­jured two other mo­torists, records re­leased this week show.

Jorge Me­len­dez, 46, was ar­rested af­ter a May 6 crash on I-95 near St. Au­gus­tine, where in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined he rearended another ve­hi­cle about 2:50 a.m., ac­cord­ing to his ar­rest re­port. Of­fi­cers who re­sponded to the scene said they could smell a “strong odor of an al­co­holic bev­er­age” on Me­len­dez and noted that he was “un­steady on his feet and swayed back and forth.”

Me­len­dez, who had been an of­fi­cer at the Win­ter Springs Po­lice Depart­ment since 2007, re­signed in Oc­to­ber, about a month be­fore he pleaded no con­test to reck­less driv­ing caus­ing se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury in St. Johns County, records show. Ad­ju­di­ca­tion was with­held, meaning he was not con­victed, but he was placed on pro­ba­tion for four years, and re­quired to com­plete DUI school and 75 hours com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Florida High­way Pa­trol in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined Me­len­dez rear-ended a Mini Cooper in his Mercedes con­vert­ible while driv­ing on I-95 near State Road 206, caus­ing the Mini Cooper to crash into a guardrail. Both the driver and pas­sen­ger in the Mini Cooper were taken to the hos­pi­tal for in­juries, one with a pos­si­ble bro­ken leg, the ar­rest re­port said.

Me­len­dez also had an adult pas­sen­ger in his car at the time of the crash, but it did not ap­pear she suf­fered any in­juries.

Me­len­dez de­clined to per­form a field so­bri­ety test or take a breath test af­ter of­fi­cers said they be­lieved he was in­tox­i­cated, his ar­rest re­port says. Of­fi­cers also found a open con­tainer of al­co­hol in­side his car.

Me­len­dez’s at­tor­ney,

Robert Man­dell, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond for com­ment on the case.

Another Win­ter Springs po­lice of­fi­cer ar­rested on DUI, Jef­frey Ben­der, re­signed from the agency in Oc­to­ber, po­lice records show.

He was ar­rested in Oviedo in Septem­ber and has since been charged with DUI above 0.15 blood al­co­hol con­tent, which is double the legal limit of 0.08, ac­cord­ing to court records. The Semi­nole County case re­mains on­go­ing.

Both of­fi­cers were off­duty at the time of their ar­rest.

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