Questions about federal judge's arrest remain unanswered
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - More than two weeks after being stopped by city police, a Lake Charles federal judge paid a fine for an open-container summons.
But the investigation into the matter isn't over.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi was pulled over Jan. 23 after a 911 caller reported an erratic driver.
Lake Charles City Attorney Billy Loftin claims that while the case has received a lot of attention, the incident was routine.
The two-minute call, placed at 1:25 p.m., paints a picture of a driver who appears to be drunk.
Documents obtained by KPLC reveal the driver was Minaldi. Records also show four Lake Charles Police Department officers responded to the call, and witnesses say at least one followed Minaldi for less than a mile before she was stopped in her driveway on Fairway Drive.
Minaldi was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters. She was issued an open-container citation.
Citing a pending investigation, Lake Charles police have denied requests by KPLC for the video from the patrol vehicles' dash cameras and well as recordings of radio communications.
"That open-container violation may or may not be dispositive of all of the issues in this case," Loftin said. "So the simple explanation of the status is that there is an open file, an investigatory file, with the city police department relative to this incident."
Loftin said he trusts the police did the right thing.
"Police officers have a large amount of discretion as it relates to issuing citations. It happens every day up and down every street," he said. "I trust that they did their job."
The questions KPLC still wants answered are:
• Why was an open-container citation issued?
• Why is the incident still under investigation?
• Finally and most importantly, was Minaldi given a field-sobriety test? If not, why?
Lake Charles Police have repeatedly referred us to the news release on the incident which can be viewed HERE.
When asked about the details of the arrest and what witnesses claim they saw, Loftin said: "I'm not being evasive. I just don't have a comment on it. I haven't read it. I don't have any knowledge as to whether those accusations or allegations are true or not, and so I'm not in a proper position to comment."
Minaldi had even less to say on the matter.
When contacted by KPLC, she declined comment, telling us she's "paid the ticket and it's over."
As for the open investigation, Loftin did not have a timeline on when it is expected to be completed.
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