Federal judge charged with first-offense DWI, dash cam video released
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Lake Charles Police Department has concluded its investigation into a Jan. 23 incident involving U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi.
According to a news release issued Friday, police reviewed in-car video camera footage, witness statements and officer observations. Police said as a result, Minaldi is being charged with first-offense DWI.
Minaldi was originally taken into custody and transported to police headquarters, where she was issued an open-container citation.
The video footage obtained by KPLC-TV shows officers attempting to remove Minaldi from her vehicle by asking several times. KPLC's mobile viewers should go to www.kplctv.com/video to watch the video from the stop.
"Ms. Minaldi, can you please get out of the car," an officer is heard saying.
"I'm ordering you to get out of the car," the officer said before Minaldi responded.
"You can't order me. I am on my own property," Minaldi said.
The video continues on for 19 minutes before police officers can be heard explaining what was about to happen.
"I'm going to place you in the escort position to get you out of your vehicle" the officer said. "Since you refuse to cooperate, you leave me with no other choice. Do you understand that?"
Minaldi is then pulled from her vehicle and placed under arrest.
The video also shows officers as they recover a cup of liquid they believed to be white wine.
The video also reveals Minaldi asking for other police officials as she is transported to police headquarters.
The officer driving responded to her questions during the ride.
"I didn't hear who you asked to contact? Our supervisor was on the scene and that would be his call because Deputy Chief (Mark) Kraus is currently on vacation."
The recording continues as arresting officers appear unsure how to proceed. A conversation between two people, believed to be the arresting officer and another police officer included details about where Minaldi was taken once inside the building.
"What are they doing?"
"Bringing her to (inaudible) chief's office."
"That's what I was told."
Minaldi was then issued an open container citation and released.
The initial traffic stop began after a 911 caller reported an erratic driver at the intersection of McNeese and Canal streets in Lake Charles. The call was made at around 1:25 p.m.
Following the call, officers said they observed Minaldi crossing the center line multiple times.
After arriving at Minaldi's home in south Lake Charles, officers attempted to conduct a field sobriety test but Minaldi refused.
"No, I'm not going to do that," Minaldi said.
Despite repeated attempts to get Minaldi to exit the vehicle she continued to refuse.
By refusing, Minaldi could have her driver's license suspended for six months, according to state law.
The next step in the legal process is an arraignment at city court.
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