A Connecticut state trooper who was charged with driving under the influence after a crash in Southbury in September 2019 that injured a mother and daughter will be on probation for two years and he'll attend an alcohol education program.
Sgt. John McDonald was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, reckless driving and failure to obey a stop sign.
He appeared in court Thursday and McDonald’s lawyer entered nolo contender pleas for two counts of reckless engagement in the second degree.
In response to the driving under the influence charge, they applied for an alcohol education program.
The judge accepted pleas of nolo contendere.
The state asked for a one-year execution suspended and two years of probation and the judge accepted a plea deal.
McDonald was sentenced to one year execution suspended and two years of probation with conditions.
“Mr. McDonald is thankful that we’re able to resolve this and we really appreciate the compassion and the grace shown by the victims and their attorney,” McDonald’s attorney, Robert Britt, said.
Police said McDonald was off-duty in his unmarked police car when he didn’t stop at a stop sign on Sept. 25, 2019, crashing into a car traveling on Route 188. According to the arrest warrant, McDonald was driving 71 miles per hour just before the crash. The posted speed limit in the area is 40 miles per hour.
Witnesses to the crash described McDonald as "slurring his words" and smelling of alcohol, according to the warrant. McDonald never took a blood alcohol test.
When asked at a news conference why McDonald was never tested, police said when there are possible injuries the protocol is to take crash victims to the hospital, which they did. Police said McDonald then left the hospital against medical advice and before investigators got there.
According to the arrest warrant, a nurse did note that McDonald walked out with a steady gait accompanied by friends, and in ambulance dispatch records, under the listed category of alcohol, there's a notation of "none" documented next to it. Investigators said video has been obtained from the hospital and will be part of the investigation.
Before the crash, McDonald was at the Black Hog Brewing Company in Oxford, according to the warrant. Based on surveillance footage, investigators believe McDonald drank at least eight alcoholic drinks between 2:19 p.m. and 5:13 p.m. He was later seen ordering more drinks and bringing them outside, where he could not be seen by surveillance.
The two women injured in the crash filed a lawsuit against McDonald and Black Hog Brewing Company. Lawyers said that the brewery has settled for $225,000.
On Thursday, a victim advocate read a statement from the mother and daughter and said it is too dífficult to be there, the crash changed their lives forever and they have faith in justice system.
McDonald said he apologized to victims.
"I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to apologize to the victims," McDonald said. "And I’d like to apologize again today, not only to them, but to their extended families as well and everyone who was affected by my actions."
He said he appreciates their consideration and kindness
McDonald had already been suspended administratively.
Connecticut State Police said that now that there is some resolution in the criminal case, an internal affairs investigation will be completed.
"Once the internal affairs investigation is completed, the administrative investigation will be sent to the Office of Labor Relations for administrative disposition in conjunction with the current collective bargaining agreement. John McDonald remains with suspended police powers since November 14th, 2019 and
on administrative assignment, also in accordance with collective bargaining agreement," Connecticut State Police explained in a statement.