Oro Valley Police "Floored" by Blood Test Results in Fatal Motorcycle Crash; Case Dismissed Against Suspect Who Seemed Impaired

Categories: Exonerated?

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Francisco M. Villalpando, 44, killed a motorcyclist on August 21 when he failed to slow his pickup truck at a red light near Tucson. An officer suspected he was impaired on speed, but Villalpando's case was dismissed when a blood test came back negative.

Police believe Francisco Villalpando's pickup truck didn't even slow down before smashing into a motorcyclist waiting for a red light in a Tucson suburb on August 11.

John Kostelny, a 62-year-old motorcycle instructor, was crushed when the force of impact sent him careening into two other vehicles, and he later died of his wounds.

Villalpando, 44, who'd been driving on a suspended license, was uninjured in the crash. Officer Tim Nelson examined him for signs of impairment and noted "significant cues" of stimulant intoxication, such as high blood pressure, says Lieutenant Chris Olson, a special operations supervisor with the Oro Valley Police Department.

On August 21, Villalpando was indicated by a Pima County grand jury for 10 felony counts, including endangerment, aggravated DUI and criminal damage.

But when blood tests on Villalpando came back recently, they showed no evidence of any drug or alcohol in his system. On Friday, prosecutors dismissed their criminal case against Villalpando.

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Image: www.legacy.com
John Kostelny, a retired airman and longtime motorcycle instructor, was killed in August when a pickup truck slammed into him from behind.

"We all find it very curious," says Olson. "No one was more floored than (Nelson). He really thought the guy was under a stimulant."

The raises obvious questions about the accuracy of drug recognition experts like Nelson, who can spot impairment that other DUI officers might miss. Nelson's also a DUI officer and a certified phlebotomist.

As Nelson was trained to do, he compiled all of the impairment cues Villalpando had presented and ran them through a matrix that helps make sense of the data. It indicated the suspect was under the influence of a stimulant, Olson says.

"Nothing was fabricated" in terms of Nelson's report, Olson adds.

Villalpando was otherwise healthy, and the notion that any medical issues could have contributed to the crash were ruled out.

Yet the evidence shows Villalpando apparently didn't see the motorcycle or the red light until it was too late.

"Clearly he was inattentive," Olson says. "We don't know why."

Villalpando hasn't made any statements about the crash.

Olson admits that mistakes by DRE officers are possible, but that blood tests of suspects typically back up the officers' educated guess. Nelson has a highly accurate record of successfully identifying the various drugs ingested by drivers, Olson says. A re-evaluation of the DRE program isn't planned.

"Every now and then, with a case like this, everybody's left trying to figure out what happened," he says.

Police are now looking at potential civil violations with which to charge Villalpando.

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5 comments
candey811
candey811

sometimes an accident is just an accident, OR he was high on bath salts which doesn't always show up on drug tests.

jglen
jglen

... ya'll know this killerclown was prolly txting while driving w/ his knees ... 

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Aren't distracted driving, running a red light and failure to control punishable offenses? And his driving on a suspended license and everything else that led to the accident seem to me to add up to at least Man II.

squash
squash

 @eric.nelson745 Perhaps, but just because someone breaks the law doesn't mean you can trump up/make up charges against them. I lived there for 15 years of my life and have seen first hand their tyranny and heavy-handedness. Fuck OVPD.

candey811
candey811

@squash @eric.nelson745 . Yep, I got pulled over driving through Oro Valley because my car was dusty. Cop said that he figured it had been sitting and wasn't insured. REALLY? My 72 year old father got pulled over because no gas cap (which he forgot that day at the gas station). Oro Valley makes their money on pulling over people on the highway. Millions of dollars a year.

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